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General's future to be decided soon
The owners of the Greensboro Generals will meet with officials from the Greensboro Coliseum on Tuesday before deciding what to do with the franchise.
BY CRAGG T. GREENLEE Staff Writer
Keith Tolbert contributed to this report
Contact Craig T. Greenlee at 373-7034 or email@example.com
Greensboro News & Record - April 24, 2002
GREENSBORO - The future of professional hockey in Greensboro is cloudy. But the air of uncertainty should be cleared next week when the Greensboro Generals are expected to reveal their plans for the 2002-03 season.
Generals co-owners Art Donaldson and Rocco Scarfone met Tuesday to discuss the team's future. That meeting did not produce anything definitive, but a final decision on the team's future, Scarfone said, is likely to come after the Generals meet with Greensboro Coliseum officials Tuesday.
Donaldson was unavailable for comment.
"Right now, we're no closer to making a final decision than we were a month ago or a week ago," Scarfone said. “We're still looking at all of our options.
"At this time, we don't have all the answers we need to make a final decision."
The Generals, coming off a 23-38-8 season, performed just as poorly at the gate.
The franchise sold an average of 2,900 tickets per game in its third season and, according to Scarfone, lost an “extremely significant” amount of money. The Generals had fewer than 500 season-ticket holders in 2001-02 and have sold 250 for 2002-03 - in spite of a special promotion that prices most seats at $199. The team's stated goal is 2,500 season tickets.
"We needed to average 4,500 (spectators per game) to break even," Scarfone said. "We were never able to hit the attendance we needed. In order to be viable, you have to have a solid season-ticket base."
The area's sagging economy hasn't helped the Generals. Scarfone wouldn't give specifics, but says the franchise is well below the league average of $540,000 per season in corporate sponsorships.
Donaldson and Scarfone say they want the team to stay in Greensboro, but only if the franchise is economically viable. Scarfone said getting the Greensboro Coliseum to agree to lower its rental rates for weekday games - when attendance usually is lower - would be helpful.
From the coliseum's perspective, there are concerns about the franchise, which will be discussed in detail next week. Matt Brown, the coliseum's managing director, says the prime issues involve marketing/promotions and the team's competitiveness.
"We need to get some answers about their game plan for marketing and promoting every game," Brown said. "Since there's not much in the way of season-ticket sales, we have to do all we can to enhance our ability to get more people in the building."
"Knowing more about their prospects for fielding a more competitive team would create a greater sense of expectation of getting a boost in attendance."
"The way things have been going, we're giving up valuable dates and getting low revenue and low attendance in return. We can't continue to go in that direction."