Hockey League (UHL)
County Veterans Memorial Arena
Hockey Talks Collapse
July 2, 1997
Michael Gottlieb, Staff Writer
Just four months before the start of the hockey season, negotiations between Broome County and the owners of the B.C. Icemen fell apart late Tuesday afternoon.
After initial enthusiasm from both sides, County Executive Jeffrey P. Kraham and Patrick Snyder, who owns the Icemen along with Mark Palombo and Dave Pace, confirmed they were stuck on issues and neither side appeared willing to concede.
However, Kraham said late Tuesday night that the deal isn’t dead yet and a spark of hope remains to revive it in time for this year.
“I spoke with Richard Brosal, the commissioner of the league, and he believes, like I believe, that we weren’t very far apart,” in coming to an agreement, Kraham said. Brosal offered to help in whatever way he could, including extending a July 1 deadline the league set to have a team in place.
But Snyder said that extension has no bearing on making a deal.
“It means nothing to us,” Snyder said. “We have to start selling advertising. Usually I start in April and now May and June are gone too.”
“Whether it’s with my group or some other group, time is of the essence.”
Whether there will be a hockey team here next season is a question best answered by Kraham, Snyder said.
“Our next step is to hear from the county,” Snyder said. “They know what we need. We came to them with specific numbers. They came back with intangibles.”
The Icemen, if the agreement can be revived, would fill the void at the Veterans Memorial Arena left by the Binghamton Rangers, who last month moved their American League franchise to Hartford, Conn. Within a week, plans were announced that the Colonial Hockey League, now called the United Hockey League, would expand to Broome County and start play in October.
But if the deal falls through, Kraham said he’s unsure whether the county can find another owner in […] attempt but at this point of time, this being the first of July, I am not confident about it,” Kraham said Tuesday afternoon. Kraham contacted United Hockey League Commissioner Brosal to see what can be done to bring another team to Binghamton—which is when Brosal told Kraham the league could extend the deadline.
Kraham also said that Brosal had […] not at Tuesday’s negotiating session, and related that Pace felt optimistic that some sort of arrangement could be worked out.
The owners could not be reached for further comment late Tuesday, nor could UHL officials be reached.
Each side pointed to the other as the cause of the break down.
Snyder, the Icemen’s general manager and former vice president of communications and public relations for the Binghamton Rangers, said the group needed to have the agreement completed by Tuesday to have the team ready to start the season.
“Today’s the deadline. We have a business to run,” Snyder said in the afternoon. “Time was of the essence from the get go.”
“They didn’t tell me they had a drop-deadline,” Kraham said.
Snyder said the negotiations broke down because the partners needed a specific agreement to move forward, and the county forced them to concede on too many points.
“Jeff Kraham said he needed a certain percentage (of revenues) to sell it to the Legislature. We conceded,” he said. The county wanted a 20 percent share of the proceeds if the team was sold.
“We conceded in so many areas. They weren’t coming up with concrete things to offer,” Snyder said.
Kraham said the attitude of the owners changed after Binghamton attorney Gregory Gates stepped down from the ownership team.
“It went from an attitude of community orientation to a more business attitude,” Kraham said.
Kraham said he could not agree to the points the owners insisted on and said the county had been flexible on many issues.
“They were focused on crossing every T and dotting every I instead of making a general agreement. It ended up the final ultimatum was not flexible whatsoever. We were totally open to anything. They were totally rigid,” he said. “We thought we were an inch from an agreement.”
Kraham said the biggest problem was food and drink concessions. He said the owners wanted 30 percent of food and drink concessions, while the county was offering a 10 percent share. The county expected to earn between $475,000 and $500,000 a year from concessions.
A 30 percent cut to the team would mean the county would get less money than from the Rangers contract, Kraham said.
Snyder said they could not agree on food and drink concessions, advertising and the skyboxes. “We are doing all the marketing and the advertising,” Snyder said. “We deserve a good part of the concession […] else to play in the arena, the name Icemen will stay with the owners because they own the copy rights, Snyder said.
“I think it is highly unlikely that another group could successfully start a new team,” he said.