ICEMEN OWNER RESPONDS TO CHANNEL 25 REPORTER

first_imgICEMEN OWNER RON GEARY TAKES CHANNEL 25 REPORTER JORDAN VANDERBERGE REMARKS HEAD ON(UNEDITED  E-MAIL CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN RON GEARY AND JORDAN VANDENBERGE)From: Jordan T. Vandenberge , Eyewitness NewsMr. Geary,This is Jordan Vandenberge from Eyewitness News (News 25 / Local 7). I sincerely hope this message finds you well. The reason I am contacting you today is to seek comment in regards to a story that we’re working on for our newscasts tonight.I recently submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the City of Owensboro for emails between city officials regarding the Evansville Icemen’s move to Owensboro that was announced on January 20th. The records request yielded several hundred pages of emails.Through these emails and in our story tonight, we have established a timeline of how the team’s negotiations and eventual deal with Owensboro came to be. Furthermore, the emails show that the team reached out to Owensboro in mid-December and began negotiating soon thereafter. This appears to show that the team was simultaneously negotiating with Evansville and Owensboro. We will raise the question (and let viewers decide) of whether the team was trying to find the best business deal possible or whether the team was negotiating in poor faith with Evansville.This is, in a nutshell, our story tonight. If you would like to send a statement, I would greatly appreciate it.Feel free to call me if you have any questions.Best Regards,Jordan Vandenberge————————————————————————————————-From: Ron GearyJordanYou inquired whether the IceMen were trying to find the best business deal possible or whether the team was negotiating in poor faith. I would pose the same question as to the City, and will offer comment why that is the far more interesting question.We phoned Mayor Winnecke in January 2015 to start negotiating a new lease and sent a February 5, 2015 letter to formally start the process. Throughout 2015, the IceMen told the City it needs a better lease and provided the City with all information it requested, but the IceMen never received a response from the City as to new terms. As a result, the IceMen sent proposed lease revisions to the City in October 2015. In November 2015, the City rejected the IceMen’s proposal but offered no new terms, all as the December 1, 2015 deadline with the ECHL approached.The IceMen were told in mid-to late November 2015 that the City had a plan B and C if the IceMen deal fell through. We certainly accepted that as it sounds – the City had other options. We had no reason to doubt their word.By mid-December, it was apparent the City did not want the IceMen in Evansville. For nearly a year, the City was told the IceMen needed a better lease. Instead, every City proposal was worse. Not just a little worse, but hundreds of thousands of dollars worse – but better for the City. Even the final offer from the City would have been six figures worse than the IceMen’s current lease.In early January 2016, we even proposed to extend the existing lease for a year with some nominal changes that we believe would have a neutral impact on the City, all in the hopes something might be worked out during that year. That didn’t work either. As you can see, we wanted to stay in Evansville.Since the City of Evansville had shown no willingness for almost a year to do anything but force a more onerous lease on the IceMen, and told us they had contingency plans several weeks earlier, I had no choice but to have a contingency plan of my own and did reach out to Owensboro.In order to keep a hockey tenant in the Ford Center, it appears Venue Works became the 90% owner in the new hockey team. How is that good faith when Venue Works was in the room at nearly all meetings between the City and IceMen and participated intimately in all negotiations? In fact, Venue Works was in the room when the IceMen told them and the City we all needed to find clever and new ways to make this lease beneficial for all involved. Venue Works did nothing to assist the IceMen to better their position, but when its high fee paying client (I believe around a half million dollars a year), the City, demanded a hockey tenant, suddenly Venue Works was ready to get some skin in the game. If that were made available to the IceMen – a deal could likely have been cut.As a result in putting skin in the game, Venue Works suddenly gets a five year extension on their contract for the Ford Center. At the same time, Venue Works compensation system changed. I don’t know how or why, but the fees changed. Seems to me they bought that five year extension by backing a new hockey team.In sum, I can assure we were negotiating in the utmost of good faith during the year process. We never heard any proposals from the City – not one – until we went public in November 2015. Despite what the Mayor’s office will say – which will be his office was right and everyone else was wrong – the City did not want the IceMen to stay in Evansville and their negotiations show it. The documents and actions of the City speak for themselves. If you want any documents or emails, I will gladly provide you them.Ron GearyFOOTNOTE:  The e-mails between Mr. Geary and Jordan Vandenberge is posted by the CCO without opinion, bias or editing.FOOTNOTES: Our next “IS IT TRUE” will be posted on this coming Friday?Please take time and read our newest feature article entitled “HOT JOBS”. Jobs posted in this section are from Evansville proper.If you would like to advertise in the CCO please contact us City-County [email protected] “Readers Poll” question is: Do you feel that Evansville Brownfields Corp should be considered a public or private entity?Copyright 2015 City County Observer. All rights reserved. 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