Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jefferson County's shit hits the fan?

Got this email from the Wildcatters:

PHONE:  (409) 951-5504


BEAUMONT, TX-- The Texas Wildcatters were told Wednesday afternoon by Jefferson County to vacate their offices and players' facilities in Ford Arena within 30 days from the completion of the 2008 ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs. The County has indicated it would refuse to honor the terms of the Wildcatters license agreement permitting play for five full hockey seasons.

More of the email after the jump:

It is unfortunately now clear, that despite the Wildcatters' good faith efforts since October 29, 2007 to have an honest dialogue with county officials concerning hockey in Southeast Texas, that all negotiations have been terminated by the County as of March 12, 2008.

During the course of negotiations to retain hockey in Southeast Texas, the Wildcatters at all times believed the County would live up to the license agreement signed by the County and currently in effect and that clearly provides for five full hockey seasons.

While the Wildcatters originally initiated discussions with the County this past fall, the Wildcatters, on February 4, 2008, made a comprehensive proposal to the County which also included the addition of a second major professional sports team (MISL) which would have added another 15 dates to the arena's calendar.  In addition to the current Wildcatters total of 36 dates, this would have brought the total number of sports dates to 52 plus playoffs, accounting for nearly 80% of the current building usage.

In that proposal the Wildcatters also offered to make a very significant investment of $1M-$5M in the building.  That offer was ignored.

The County's only response to this comprehensive proposal was to propose a rent of $10,000 per game – triple what is clearly identified in the license agreement – followed by a later offer of $4,000 per game.  These delays and the ensuing breach of the license agreement caused the Wildcatters to miss several extended ECHL deadlines and cost the Wildcatters the opportunity to retain an ECHL team for the 2008-09 season.

The County encouraged the Wildcatters to pursue other playing options and the organization immediately began negotiations with the Central Hockey League.  The Wildcatters arranged for the purchase of a CHL franchise to bring to Jefferson County.  The CHL has seven Texas-based teams and offers the opportunities for tremendous geographic rivalries due to the relative proximities of many of the teams in relation to Southeast Texas.

On February 28, 2008, the County withdrew its offer for the $4,000 per game rent, and it has become clear that the County was not negotiating in good faith to keep professional hockey in Southeast Texas.  

In response to several misleading and inaccurate reports concerning details of the Texas Wildcatters' lease status at Ford Park, the team is releasing all information, letters and documents in its possession pertaining to discussions with County officials in order to clarify the record.

As part of this, it is the Wildcatters' understanding that the County has indicated, in connection with discussions with various third parties, that the County is awaiting a response from the Wildcatters to the County's offer for hockey at Ford Arena in 2008-09.  There is in fact no offer from the County for the team to respond to.  The County officials have informed the Wildcatters their lease is null and void after completion of the 2008 Playoffs.

The Wildcatters have been told they may not play at Ford Park next season, costing the arena its primary tenant as well as a proposed new sports tenant and potential significant capital contribution.

The Wildcatters will continue to pursue all options to keep professional hockey in Southeast Texas for the 2008-09 season. 
Materials pertaining to the County discussions with the Wildcatters are currently available for the media at the Wildcatters' offices and will be posted for the public on the team website, by 10 p.m. Thursday, March 13, 2008.

The Texas Wildcatters are the proud ECHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild of the NHL and the AHL’s Houston Aeros.

It's done gotten ugly, yo. And it's about to get much worse.

Needless to say, nobody on Commissioner's Court will be getting my vote when re-election time comes around in (I think) two years.


Jim said...

That really sucks. Any idea what's really behind this?

Justin said...

Should know a hell of a lot in a few hours. I'll probably dig through it all tomorrow and put up a post about it.