Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New Arena Deal Between University and City Could Save Hockey Program.

UMass-Lowell hockey has possibly been averted from the direction of the trustees’ axe for, at the least, one more year.

The Lowell Sun reports that a tenative, 1-year arena deal between the City of Lowell and UMass-Lowell has been reached, allowing the program to continue using the city’s 6,500-seat Tsongas Arena.

A University-hired task-force requested the University’s trustees to terminate the hockey program if a number of arena fees were not either reduced or completely done away with by June 21st – the date of the trustees’ next meeting. It was reported that UMass-Lowell was paying a yearly $50,000 fee and a per-game fee of $6,000.

The Lowell Sun reports that the new deal would eliminate the $50,000 fee, give UMass-Lowell a larger percentage of concession profits, give the University a 50-50 split of advertising profits on the arena’s exterior billboard, and disallow future Lowell Devils (the city’s minor league team)/UML Riverhawks doubleheaders.

A tripping point of the new UML deal could arise with the city’s minor league franchise, however. A current deal between the Lowell Devils and the city of Lowell explicitly gives all arena advertising profits to the city’s minor league team. The city’s contract with the Devils will expire after the 2007-’08 season, but the Devils have the option to accept a 2-year extension of that deal by December 31st.

Although terms of the deal were agreed upon by Lowell city manager Bernie Lynch and UML AD Dana Skinner, the new deal still awaits the vote of the City’s arena commission, which will take place Thursday (6/7).

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