SBJ/March 29 - April 4, 2004/Facilities

Arena restarts hunt for manager, AHL team

Consultants hired by the Iowa Events Center project in Des Moines are speaking with other facility management firms about acquiring an AHL franchise for the 16,000-seat Wells Fargo Arena after similar negotiations broke down with Minnesota Sports & Entertainment in St. Paul.

Officials with the nation's two largest facility managers, SMG and Global Spectrum, said they were aware of the situation. SMG operates Hilton Coliseum at Iowa State University in Ames, 30 to 40 minutes north of Des Moines. Global Spectrum and the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms are Comcast-Spectacor properties.

"Our preference is still to work with a group that could bring an AHL team to the table," said Denis Braham, an attorney with Winstead, Sechrest & Minick, a Houston-based national sports practice representing arena owner Polk County. "At least two groups have indicated they could do that, but they haven't indicated which team and where they would be relocated from."

The law firm hired Stafford Sports of Philadelphia to assist with evaluating the respective proposals and pro formas for operating the arena, set to open in May 2005.

"They have talked to us, SMG and a joint venture with Compass Facility Management [based in Ames] and Global Entertainment," said Frank Russo, Global Spectrum senior vice president. "We're waiting to hear back from Stafford Sports."

Minnesota Sports & Entertainment, partnering with local investors, had exclusivity for more than three months but couldn't reach an agreement because of "normal issues related to the assumption of risk in operating the arena," according to Braham.

"We are still on good terms with them, but we felt it was in our best interests to let them seek other options," said Bill Robertson, vice president of communications and broadcasting for Minnesota Sports & Entertainment.

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Related Topics:

AHL, Comcast, Hockey, SMG

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