Jacksonville, FL (March 10, 2018) City Council members did everything but drive the Zamboni when they were given their first close up look of the ice facilities prior to a recent Jacksonville Icemen game. The city’s minor league hockey team provided a warm welcome to city leaders.
Council Vice President Aaron Bowman helped arrange the evening where council members Danny Becton, Sam Newby, Tommy Hazouri, Joyce Morgan, John Crescimbeni and their families got an idea of what goes on before a hockey game and the experience that has been created for the city of Jacksonville.
The guests joined Bob Ohrablo, team president, in a chalk talk similar to what the team would go through to strategize that evening’s game. They also toured the locker room and saw the gear that protects the players from bone-crushing hits and falls on the ice. Prior to the game, the council members were introduced to the fans and they participated in a ceremonial opening puck drop.
Jacksonville is becoming a hotbed for its entry in the East Coast Hockey League. The team averages more than 5,000 fans per game. The Icemen regular home season schedule runs through April 6 with games on March 30 and March 31 against the South Carolina Stingrays and on April 5 and April 6 against the Florida Everblades. Games start at 7:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Arena.
In 2017, the Jacksonville City Council helped bring the Icemen to Jacksonville by passage of bill 2017-422. This bill established an agreement between the City of Jacksonville and the Iceman with an initial 4-year agreement commencing on July 1, 2017 and expiring on June 30, 2021. The parties may extend the initial term for one three-year renewal upon the same terms and conditions.
The legislation appropriated $300,000 for capital improvements to the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The Office of Sports and Entertainment has oversight. The purpose of the appropriation is for improvements that must be made to play hockey in the arena; modifying the existing dasher boards to accept Plexiglas rather than tempered glass panels, to purchase and the installation of new Plexiglas, the purchase and installation of new ice decking system and upgrades and/or repairs to the building’s HVAC system to provide optimum building conditions for maintaining the ice sheets.
Beyond the excitement and entertainment expansion of hockey being brought to Jacksonville, the City will be reimbursed thru arena rental income and ticket surcharges. Rent Income will pay the City of Jacksonville, $10,500 for Friday and Saturday night games and $7,500 for Sunday thru Thursday games which will include staffing, security, ice crew, changeover, utilities, box office and cleaning for the lower bowl. COJ will also receive a 10% bonus rent of net ticket sales for any ticket sales above $3,500,000 during the ECHL season to include preseason, regular season and postseason. The Ticket Surcharges for the arena will collect $2.50 per paid ticket. It is estimated that if the average attendance is 3,000 per game for the 36 hockey games, the City will realize $270,000 in revenues. These dollars will be added to other revenues from the various events at the arena and can be used for capital improvements only.
The Icemen per the agreement will receive part of the ticket surcharges for purposes of costs reimbursement and as an economic incentive based on attendance. The team will receive a Home Game License Fee Rebate (based on scan drop count) for each home game as follows: (i) $1.50 for patron attendance on the first 4,000 attendees; and (ii) $2.50 for patron attendance on attendees in excess of 4,000. Important to note, with the rebate component for an average # of patrols of 3,000, the City is net profit favorable at a break-even number of 2,745. This 3,000 is considered a conservative number knowing that the ECHL average is higher.
The agreement does allow the Iceman and the COJ to mutually benefit from sponsorship opportunities and Suite Revenues with the city retaining all concessions and parking revenues.