West Valley buys 40% of Grizzlies hockey team

Ownership will now let hockey team spread out its debt payments to city

Published: Wednesday, March 18 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

WEST VALLEY CITY — Utah's second-largest city is poised to take 40 percent ownership of the Utah Grizzlies professional hockey club.

The $600,000 deal could save the team, which might otherwise go out of business, said West Valley Mayor Dennis Nordfelt.

The agreement is structured to relieve the team of debt owed to the city for rental of the E Center, 3100 S. Decker Lake Drive.

"This is a hard one for me, but my hope is that sometime in the future this would have the opportunity of becoming even more valuable to the city than it is now," the mayor said.

The total value of the team and its membership in the ECHL is about $1.5 million, according to a city staff report.

Partial acquisition of the team allows the city some control over operations. It could also help keep the team in West Valley, city manager Wayne Pyle said.

The City Council unanimously approved the contract during its formal meeting Tuesday night after raising concerns of liability in a work session earlier that afternoon. Pyle assured elected officials that the city will not be liable for injuries on the ice or operational losses.

By Tuesday, the team had not yet agreed to the contract but had been in ongoing negotiations with city staff.

Prior to Tuesday's vote, the city was the Grizzlies' landlord, overseeing the team's financial operations and controlling a suite inside the E Center.

A separate agreement, also approved by the City Council on Tuesday, changes the parking and rental arrangement between the city and the team. Rather than pay a flat rate to the city, the team would be allowed to pay a portion of its receipts until it reaches a break-even point, Pyle said.

The payments will be more closely tied to the revenue and profit generated by the Grizzlies so they will have some payment relief during hard economic times, and the payments to the city will increase in good economic times, according to a staff report.

"This is a great move to keep them there," said Councilman Mike Winder.

E-mail: rpalmer@desnews.com

WEST VALLEY CITY — Utah's second-largest city is poised to take 40 percent ownership of the Utah Grizzlies professional hockey club.

The $600,000 deal could save the team, which might otherwise go out of business, said West Valley Mayor Dennis Nordfelt.

The agreement is structured to relieve the team of debt owed to the city for rental of the E Center, 3100 S. Decker Lake Drive.

"This is a hard one for me, but my hope is that sometime in the future this would have the opportunity of becoming even more valuable to the city than it is now," the mayor said.

The total value of the team and its membership in the ECHL is about $1.5 million, according to a city staff report.

Partial acquisition of the team allows the city some control over operations. It could also help keep the team in West Valley, city manager Wayne Pyle said.

The City Council unanimously approved the contract during its formal meeting Tuesday night after raising concerns of liability in a work session earlier that afternoon. Pyle assured elected officials that the city will not be liable for injuries on the ice or operational losses.

By Tuesday, the team had not yet agreed to the contract but had been in ongoing negotiations with city staff.

Prior to Tuesday's vote, the city was the Grizzlies' landlord, overseeing the team's financial operations and controlling a suite inside the E Center.

A separate agreement, also approved by the City Council on Tuesday, changes the parking and rental arrangement between the city and the team. Rather than pay a flat rate to the city, the team would be allowed to pay a portion of its receipts until it reaches a break-even point, Pyle said.

The payments will be more closely tied to the revenue and profit generated by the Grizzlies so they will have some payment relief during hard economic times, and the payments to the city will increase in good economic times, according to a staff report.

"This is a great move to keep them there," said Councilman Mike Winder.

E-mail: rpalmer@desnews.com

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