2003 - 2004
November 26, 2003
Paper mischaracterized coliseum deal
BY ART DONALDSON
I am writing to respond to several inaccuracies that have been reported in newspaper articles and repeated in at least one editorial regarding expense settlement adjustments (not rental waivers) that were provided to the Greensboro Generals for the 2002/03 season by the coliseum.
These writings have stated that the "city" or "coliseum" or "taxpayers" own the Generals. I am even in possession of an e-mail sent by News & Record Editor John Robinson to a subscriber repeating this canard. This is not true and you know it's not true. You are well aware of the fact that Triad Professional Sports L.L.C. continues to own the Generals' membership in the ECHL.
As the principal owner of Triad Professional Sports, I want to make it clear that it was the Generals who called for a meeting with coliseum management to request what, if any, help the coliseum could provide the team. In fact, the Generals were cash-starved and there was a very real probability that the Generals would not have enough cash on hand to complete the 2002-03 season. This peril became more imminent with the success of the team as they appeared certain of making and potentially going far into the playoffs.
I believe that coliseum Managing Director Matt Brown made the right business decision by properly evaluating the economics of a potential nightmarish situation of a major tenant folding in the middle of a successful season on the ice. He correctly weighed the necessity of providing the Generals with some financial relief from the very income source generated by the Generals, such as concessions, parking and luxury box revenues.
I am sure that, had the Generals folded in the middle of the season, you would have found fault with Brown for not doing something to save the Generals like perhaps giving the very relief you now criticize him for giving.
My business associates and I have incurred great personal financial sacrifice trying to operate both the Generals and the Prowlers for the enjoyment of our community. But with repeated disappointing financial support from the local business community by way of sponsorships and advertising sales and with no local individuals willing to step up to share the burden of operating these teams, we can no longer shoulder this burden.
Financial concerns during the Generals' season placed an even greater strain on my personal financial ability to operate the Prowlers this past season, which overlapped the Generals' playoff run and necessitated my request for a meeting with coliseum officials to seek their input and assistance to ensure completion of this past Prowlers season. Being fully aware of the team's financial difficulties while addressing the Generals' problems, both Brown and coliseum Business Manager Laura Smith were extremely helpful in offering advice to help reduce Prowlers overhead and cut operating costs to ensure that the Prowlers completed the season.
The coliseum responded to my urgent request for relief of game expense fees to increase cash flow in order to ensure that the Prowlers would make it through the season. Again Brown had to weigh the very serious likelihood that the Prowlers would fold in midseason. In that case the coliseum would have lost budgeted revenues. The alternative was to provide some financial relief. In addition, terminating the Prowlers in midseason would have left a black eye on Greensboro.
Your newspaper is also keenly aware that it is common practice for the Greensboro Coliseum, and for that matter most arenas, to provide relief from event expense settlements when circumstances do not go as planned.
To be succinct: The coliseum's actions maximized the income to the city and provided sports entertainment to the public.
The writer is principal owner of the Greensboro Generals hockey team and Greensboro Prowlers arena football team.