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April 19, 2006

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Welder buys Windber plant (http://tribunedemocrat.com /x519125726/Welderbuys-Windber-plant)
By RANDY GRIFFITH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Randy Griffith

WINDBER — One of Johnstownʼs biggest success stories is bringing new life and new jobs to the shuttered Bestform plant at 1836 Stockholm Ave. An affiliate of Johnstown Welding & Fabrication Industries, 84 Iron St., has purchased the building and is restoring the plant for industrial use, sources said. S&C; Realty of 82 Iron St. in Johnstown bought the former garment factory and 3.6 acres from Broadstreet Associates of Long Island City, N.Y., the Somerset County recorderʼs office confirmed. The purchase price was $673,500, according to the deed. Company officials were tight-lipped about plans for the plant, but an announcement is expected by the end of the month, Windber Mayor Arthur Palumbo said. Borough Council has finalized a rezoning of the tract to accommodate light industry.
1 of 2 12-10-29 3:01 PM

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Crews from Metco Construction Inc. of Johnstown are installing concrete reinforced floors to support heavy machinery at the plant. Workers said they were told the JWFI-affiliate Tube Laser Industries is moving to Windber from the Planet Ice building on Jari Drive in Richland Township. Matthew Hughes, a vice president of Tube Laser, would not say how much of the operation is moving out of Richland. “We donʼt have that information right now,” Hughes said. “Weʼll have more of that available next week.” JWF President William Polacek did not return phone calls to The Tribune-Democrat. He founded Johnstown Welding in a two-car garage in 1987. It has grown to a $130 million-a-year business with more than 700 workers. Windber leaders have been promoting the Bestform property for several years. In 2004, Windber, Somerset County and Windber School District agreed to make the plant free from all property taxes under the state-sponsored Keystone Opportunity Zone program. Polacek and W. Graeme Roustan of Canada bought the Planet Ice building in 2004 under the limited liability company Roustan Johnstown.

Randy Griffith can be reached at 532-5057 or rgriffith@tribdem.com. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

2 of 2

12-10-29 3:01 PM

Chiefs owner brings in Roustan to manage ECHL franchise » Ch...

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July 22, 2008

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Chiefs owner brings in Roustan to manage ECHL franchise (http://tribune-democrat.com/chiefs
/x519169236/Chiefs-owner-brings-in-Roustan-to-manageECHL-franchise)
By MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Johnstown Chiefs majority owner Neil Smith will count on internationally renowned Roustan United Arena Solutions Team to manage the ECHL franchise. The former New York Rangersʼ Stanley Cup-winning GM said the agreement potentially could lead to Roustan purchasing the Chiefs. “Weʼve entered into an agreement with Roustanʼs company to help manage the club, not the hockey on the ice, but the business side of things,” Smith said Tuesday night, when reached in New York. Roustan United works with arenas worldwide but also has a strong presence in Johnstown. Roustan United maintains Planet Ice Skating Center in Richland Township, according to the rinkʼs Web site. Roustan United lists an office address at 195 Jari Drive, the site of Planet Ice. “Graeme Roustan and I are friends,” Smith said of the CEO of Roustan Capital and chairman of Roustan United Arena Solutions. “Heʼs got a big company here in Johnstown. It seemed like a natural. Itʼs in the same business. Heʼs the CEO of Bauer as well.”

1 of 3

12-10-29 3:08 PM

Chiefs owner brings in Roustan to manage ECHL franchise » Ch...

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Graeme Roustan made international news in February by purchasing Nike Inc. hockey brand Bauer for $200 million. Smith said Roustan United will replace two Chiefs staff members who recently left for other jobs. Vice President of Business Operations Kevin McGeehan resigned last month to accept a position in the pharmaceutical field. Director of Business Operations Doug Nelson said last week that he will join the NBAʼs Cleveland Cavaliers. “Kevin did a great job and was there a long time,” Smith said. “Iʼm real happy for him and his family that he gets to do something that is a step up the ladder for him. Doug did a great job too. I just got lucky that I have been involved with these people.” Smith, who has been part of the Chiefs ownership since 2002, said heʼd consider selling the Chiefs to Roustan, but such a scenario probably would hinge on the outcome of a Texas-based consulting groupʼs ongoing evaluation of Cambria County War Memorial Arena. The Bassewitz Group will be paid $37,500 by the county and Greater Johnstown Partnerships to find ways to improve the facilityʼs finances and enhance its impact on the local economy. “There is the potential that they could end up buying it from me, which Iʼve always said would be the best thing, if local owners had it,” Smith said. “For now, we just want to see if we can make it go in Johnstown. “Iʼm not involved in that part of it, but I think the county is being very cooperative in trying to do a study to find out whether or not there is a better way to run this whole thing at the War Memorial,” Smith said. “Roustan owns Planet Ice, so maybe there is a way to make everything work together. The big thing is theyʼre all local people.” Smith said heʼs been impressed by both Graeme Roustan, a Montreal native, and Scott Branovan, president and chief executive of Roustan United Arena Solutions. “I think that theyʼre really good people. It makes it a lot brighter for the future of the Chiefs,” he said. “They have a sincere interest in the town and the area. I truly do believe theyʼll make it work.” As for the long-term and a potential sale, Smith will wait for the outcome of the arena study. “We should know something by September on that front, with the study of the building and the team,” Smith said. “As far as my agreement with the Roustan company, thatʼs going to be status quo. It takes the heat off of me in terms of somehow finding a way to replace Kevin. That would be tough for me to do from New York. Iʼm involved to steer the ship, particularly in the hockey operation. Iʼm involved in all the decisions that go on.” Representatives from Roustan or the county could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340
2 of 3 12-10-29 3:08 PM

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April 1, 2009

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CLARIFICATION (http://tribune-democrat.com/local
/x519189220/CLARIFICATION)
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

A story in Tuesday's editions incorrectly identified the owner of Planet Ice property as Roustan United, when records at the courthouse identify the owner as Roustan Johnstown, a limited liability corporation. Information filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State lists Walter G. Roustan as president of Roustan Johnstown. Roustan United leases space in the buidling, along with Roustan Planet Ice Inc. Roustan Unitedʼs chairman is W. Graeme Roustan. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

1 of 1

12-10-29 2:58 PM

Roustan’s role a hat trick? | Managing Chiefs could lead to bigge...

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July 25, 2008

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Roustan’s role a hat trick? | Managing Chiefs could lead to bigger things (http://tribune-democrat.com
/editorials/x519169412/Roustan-s-role-a-hat-trickManaging-Chiefs-could-lead-to-bigger-things)
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

We see nothing but good news in Roustan United Arena Solutions Team signing on to manage the Johnstown Chiefs. Team majority owner Neil Smith confirmed that development in a story in Wednesdayʼs editions of The Tribune-Democrat. Smith, who guided the New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup championship as general manager, has been hoping to yield control of the Chiefs to a local entity and hopes to eventually find a local buyer who can keep the team here. Roustan may turn out to be that buyer. For now, the international company will operate the business side of the Chiefs, leaving the hockey side to Coach Ian Herbers. Roustan runs Planet Ice in Richland Township and has a local office on Jari Drive in Richland. “There is the potential that they could end up buying it from me,” Smith said, “which Iʼve

1 of 2

12-10-29 3:14 PM

Roustan’s role a hat trick? | Managing Chiefs could lead to bigge...

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always said would be the best thing – if local owners had it. For now, we just want to see if we can make it go in Johnstown.” In February, company Chairman Graeme Roustan purchased Nike Inc.ʼs hockey label, Bauer, for $200 million. “Heʼs got a big company here in Johnstown. It seemed like a natural,” Smith said of Roustan. “Itʼs in the same business. Heʼs the CEO of Bauer as well.” Smith is awaiting the results of a study on the Cambria County War Memorial Arena that should determine how the facility could best be marketed to bring in more events, support the Chiefs and maintain its role as a tribute to military servicemen and women. That study is to be finished by September. Hereʼs what weʼd like to see come out of all this: Roustan purchases the Chiefs from Smith, and the company uses its considerable resources to make the franchise even stronger and protect its future. Roustan takes over control of the War Memorial and brings its vast marketing experience and resources to the table to attract even more great events to the arena. Roustan also takes over operation of Point Stadium, owned by the city of Johnstown, and elevates that venue by attracting more events and a wider variety of activities, including major concerts. Sounds like a win-win-win situation for every entity involved – the county, the city, the venues, the team and the residents of the region. “Roustan owns Planet Ice, so maybe there is a way to make everything work together,” Smith said. “The big thing is theyʼre all local people.” The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:14 PM

MIKE MASTOVICH | Hockey, hits fun for Rowe » Chiefs » T...

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July 27, 2008

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MIKE MASTOVICH | Hockey, hits fun for Rowe
(http://tribune-democrat.com/chiefs/x519169544/MIKEMASTOVICH-Hockey-hits-fun-for-Rowe)
BY MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

After watching Randy Rowe play for the Johnstown Chiefs the past three ECHL seasons, Iʼve become accustomed to seeing No. 18: n Skate hard, regardless of the score. n Deliver or take hit after hit – including some cheap shots against him that resulted in injuries. n Lead by example, a trait truly appreciated by Johnstown fans who live for blue-collar hockey. That high-octane, no-quit approach might seem the opposite of the philosophy Rowe will bring to the Group Ice Skills Development Hockey Camp this week at Planet Ice in Richland Township. Rowe will be among a group of players and coaches with ties to the Chiefs participating in the youth camp. “My goal, the way that Iʼve been brought up, is to always make hockey fun. If itʼs not fun, you shouldnʼt be doing it,” Rowe said Saturday afternoon. “If Iʼm not having fun, Iʼm not playing at
1 of 2 12-10-29 3:20 PM

MIKE MASTOVICH | Hockey, hits fun for Rowe » Chiefs » T...

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my best. You have to sit back and relax and know what youʼre doing on the ice.” Rowe has done plenty for the Chiefs. In 137 games during the past three regular seasons, the Burford, Ontario, native has 68 goals and 149 points. Apparently, The Captain is having fun. He just looks intense – sometimes fiery – while doing it. At the camp Rowe will join former Chiefs Dmitri Tarabrin and Joe Tallari, both fan favorites during their time here. Former Chiefs coach Frank Anzalone and his son, Francis, also are instrumental in the youth camp, which begins Monday and runs through Aug. 1. “Iʼm happy with the way that Francis Anzalone and those guys are running it,” Rowe said. Rowe hinted that he intends to return to the Chiefs. He suffered an upper body injury in Game 1 of the North Division semifinals at Cincinnati. A Cyclones player hit Rowe from behind in the third period of a Chiefs loss. He sat out Game 2, but in typical Rowe fashion, he returned to the lineup for Game 3 in Johnstown. “I got very lucky in a way. My surgery is eventually going to have to happen, but itʼs going to be at my choice depending on how much pain tolerance I can handle,” Rowe said. “Iʼm feeling good right now. My goal is to wait another season and then have the surgery done.” Rowe, 28, has played seven ECHL seasons, including four with the former Peoria Rivermen. He has closely monitored this offseason in which Chiefs majority owner Neil Smith has sought parties interested in either investing in or purchasing the team. Last week Smith announced that Roustan United Arena Solutions Team will manage the Chiefsʼ business operations this year and potentially might buy the team. Roustan also maintains Planet Ice and has an office in the facility. “My aspect on it is that itʼs going to help me to make my decision whether Iʼm going to come back or not,” Rowe said. “It gives me some stability and confidence to come back and play here. I hear nothing but good things about this guy (Graeme Roustan) that just bought into the organization.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:20 PM

Report: Arena can be viable » Local News » The Tribune Demo...

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September 18, 2008

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Report: Arena can be viable (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local/x519173586/Report-Arena-can-beviable)
BY SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — The Cambria County War Memorial Arena, with the Johnstown Chiefs as the primary tenant, can be a viable operation, the commissioners were told Thursday. But some changes and modernization would have to be made to accomplish that goal, the commissioners were advised in an update on a study now being done on the arena and its finances. “Iʼm optimistic about the arena and the Chiefs remaining here,” President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said. “But for that to happen, it will require a cooperative effort by all parties and an ability to adapt to necessary change. Weʼre still in a time warp.” Stevens, along with Commissioners Bill Harris and Milan Gjurich, declined to give specific details, saying theyʼre awaiting further clarification and the final report in October. The War Memorial Arena is owned by the county but is operated by the county War Memorial Authority. The Bassewitz Group of Bellaire, Texas, is being paid $30,000, plus $7,500 in expenses, for the study. The cost is being split by the county and the Greater Johnstown Partnership, made up of area business people.
1 of 2 12-10-29 3:23 PM

Report: Arena can be viable » Local News » The Tribune Demo...

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The commissioners said that the Bassewitz report will be reviewed with the authority and the partnership members before itʼs made public. In recent years, the countyʼs subsidy for arena operations went to $125,000 in 2007 and is budgeted at $150,000 this year. The three commissioners met with Carl Bassewitz, president of the consulting company, and David Pert of Spike Consulting and Steve Paterson of Pro Consulting, both assisting in the study. “This is still a work in progress,” Stevens said. “Preliminary indications are both the team and the arena can be viable in Johnstown. Properly structured, the Chiefs can be successful here, and the arena can provide a variety of venues to the public.” He cautioned, however, “It can be successful – to what degree depends on the steps to be taken and implemented.” But all of that is not to say that the arena would be a profit-making operation, he indicated. The “main theme” of the update was about “modernizing operations and efficiencies,” Stevens said. Gjurich said, “It can be viable for the Chiefs and War Memorial providing we use the information (in the report) as a blueprint for success.” Harris said that changes would have to be made to adjust to the market. “I was encouraged weʼll have the tools in future decision-making on how to run and operate,” he said. Chiefs majority owner Neil Smith brought in Roustan United Arena Solutions Team in July to manage the business side of the hockey team. Smith has said that heʼd consider selling the Chiefs to Roustan, but such a scenario probably would hinge on the outcome of the Bassewitz study. Roustan United works with many arenas, including Planet Ice Skating Center in Richland Township. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:23 PM

Chiefs make pitch » Business » The Tribune Democrat, Johnsto...

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October 9, 2008

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Chiefs make pitch (http://tribune-democrat.com
/business/x519175236/Chiefs-make-pitch)
BY SHAWN PIATEK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

About 30 business, community and governmental leaders from Cambria County packed a room on Thursday at the Pasquerilla Conference Center to listen to a plan to save hockey in Johnstown. Organizer of the meeting was W. Graeme Roustan, whose Richland Township-based company, Roustan United Arena Solutions, took over management of the Johnstown Chiefs during the summer. Roustan potentially could take ownership of the team on Dec. 1, pending response to the plan laid out Thursday. Roustan presented his assurances to those who attended the gathering. He said he never wants to move the team; he is seeking only to break even financially; and he intends to win a championship. “I want a championship,” Roustan told the gathering. “As soon as we get this (financial) end of the deal done, Iʼll be banging on the doors of (team management) looking for our trophy.” He noted the personal financial risks he could assume if he signs the option to own the team. From there, he noted that the community will have to step up its support in order to keep the Chiefs in town.

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12-10-29 3:26 PM

Chiefs make pitch » Business » The Tribune Democrat, Johnsto...

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The price? New sponsorship dollars of $380,000 annually to be committed no later than Nov. 15. The breakdown was simple. Roustan is seeking two-year commitments from 28 new sponsors in addition to those already on board at three different levels of support. Roustanʼs plan calls for four sponsors at $27,000 a year, eight at $17,000 and 16 at $8,500. These pledges, in addition to the existing sponsorships, would bring the Chiefs total sponsorship revenue roughly in line with the ECHL league average, but also would represent a 135 percent increase compared with current sponsorship levels. Roustan feels optimistic that the goal is achievable. The presentation noted that only about 9 percent of the 644 members of the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce are Chiefs partners. While Roustan said he understands that not all chamber members are in a position to be major sponsors, they can help with corporate season ticket sales. The teamʼs presentation also noted that only 21 percent of its season ticket sales are from businesses, one-third that of the league average. “Thatʼs where we want to go for now,” Roustan said. “We want to break even, get closer to the league averages and stop the bleeding for now.” Roustan said that if he doesnʼt see significant steps toward the necessary commitment by Nov. 15, he wonʼt be likely to take ownership of the team on Dec. 1. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

2 of 2

12-10-29 3:26 PM

Officials vow to take action on arena study » Chiefs » The Tribu...

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October 11, 2008

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Officials vow to take action on arena study
(http://tribune-democrat.com/chiefs/x519175430 /Officials-vow-to-take-action-on-arena-study)
BY SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Cambria County leaders are vowing that a newly released study on updating operations at the War Memorial Arena wonʼt simply gather dust. The 38-page study calls for privatized management of the facility, updated financial and ticketing systems, bringing in more events and keeping the Johnstown Chiefs as the primary tenant. The $37,500 study was funded by Cambria County and the Greater Johnstown Partnership. “I donʼt think we can monkey around,” county Commissioner Bill Harris said. “We have to move quickly.” Although government doesnʼt move as fast as private industry, President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said the first step will be to begin the process seeking proposals from potential operators, including advertising for the proposals by the end of the year. Input will be sought from War Memorial Authority members, business leaders in the partnership, the Chiefs organization and even operators, he said. Whether there would be a single entity to manage the facility or an “a la carte” system still is
1 of 3 12-10-29 3:30 PM

Officials vow to take action on arena study » Chiefs » The Tribu...

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to be determined, Stevens said. Various options probably would be sought in the proposals, he said. The study suggested these options for privatization: • The hockey team serving as the private, overall manager. • The team managing the facility with support for operational management and booking handled by a third party. • Management by a third party, such as Global Spectrum, SMG, AEG or the team. • Third-party handling of food and beverage concessions. • An event booking agent. • A ticketing system, such a Ticketmaster, Veritix or Tickets Now. “Nothing is written in stone,” Stevens said. “Some people have predetermined notions on the outcome. That is not true. This is an exploratory process that must have input from all parties.” Always an option is continuing the arena management now in place with outside assistance, he said. At issue, Stevens said, is “what is the best fit for the arena and the Chiefs, and which (option) will assure success.” Authority Chairman Jack Steeves said the study will be reviewed by the 15-member authority at its meeting Oct. 27 at the War Memorial. Steeves believes that the arena management, led by General Manager Jim Vautar, should remain in place. Many of the changes suggested in the study already have been undertaken, he said, and attempts have been made to book more events. The arena, which operates on a $1.128 million budget, has six full-time employees and 75 to 150 part-time workers, depending on the event. The new study suggested that the authority itself should be revamped. “A smaller and more involved arena authority may be more able to provide necessary oversight and accountability to the operations of the arena,” it said. “Splitting the authority into separate entities – one that oversees operations and another that focuses on attracting additional events – should be considered.” The study also recommends that a business plan should be developed to “effectively market and sell the arena usage and arena event tickets regionally.” The commissioners are watching whether a pitch by W. Graeme Roustan for community

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12-10-29 3:30 PM

Officials vow to take action on arena study » Chiefs » The Tribu...

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financial support for the Chiefs will gain support. Roustanʼs United Arena Solutions took over management of the hockey team this summer, and Roustan potentially could take ownership Dec. 1, pending response to his appeal last week for financial help. “If the idea is to keep the Chiefs here, we need to reach out and really solicit new corporate businesses in the community,” Harris said. Stevens said itʼs a matter of “countywide pride” to have a professional hockey team in Cambria County. He pointed to neighboring Blair County, where the Altoona Curve baseball team has drawn broad support. But at the same time, Stevens said itʼs important to bring in more events to the arena, which the study concluded is underutilized. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:30 PM

Chiefs’ future may rest on November » Chiefs » The Tribune ...

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October 22, 2008

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Chiefs’ future may rest on November (http://tribunedemocrat.com/chiefs/x519176298/Chiefs-future-may-reston-November)
By MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

This will be the most important November in Johnstown Chiefs history. That fact has nothing to do with where the team is heading in the ECHLʼs North Division standings, but rather on where the Chiefs will call home next season. “Absolutely, November is the key month,”said W. Graeme Roustan during the Chiefsʼ 5-3 win over Elmira Wednesday night at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. The owner of Roustan Inc. and Roustan United Arena Solutions will know in the next few weeks if his option to purchase the Chiefs from majority owner Neil Smith will be completed. Roustan United manages the Chiefs this season. In addition to increased local sponsorships, Roustan is waiting to see how the recommendations of the 42-page Operational Performance Assessment of the War Memorial Arena and Johnstown Chiefs are implemented. The report recommended privatization in management of the War Memorial Arena, home of the ECHLʼs only original member still in the same city 21 years later. “There is no secret that Neil Smith has been looking for a solution,” Roustan said. “He has invested a lot of money and he has made a decision that he is not going to lose money
1 of 3 12-10-29 3:36 PM

Chiefs’ future may rest on November » Chiefs » The Tribune ...

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anymore. If there was not a local solution then there was a solution that was not local, which really means moving the team.” Smith has had ownership of the Chiefs since 2002 and frequently has pointed to the teamʼs ECHL and “Slap Shot” history as reasons to keep the Chiefs in Johnstown. But after former part-owner Jim Weber abruptly pulled out of the ownership group in July 2007, Smith publicly sought local partners or local owners to take over the Chiefs. Smith committed to keeping the Chiefs in Johnstown for the 2008-09 season by posting the league-mandated letter of credit, reportedly around $250,000, by the Dec. 31, 2007 deadline. The annual letter of credit, which ensures that a team will play the entire season, must be posted again by this Dec. 31. Roustan and Smith most likely will plan their roles in the teamʼs future no later than Dec. 1. Roustan said he became involved in the process when he felt the teamʼs future in Johnstown was in jeopardy this offseason. “We have a Dec. 1 deadline coming up very quickly,” Roustan said. “I felt we had a small window for me and my company to get involved to do my best to keep the team here in Johnstown.” Roustan believes the Chiefs can do more than survive in the ECHLʼs smallest market and smallest arena. “I think this is an excellent market. The market here is a hockey market,” he said. “If this isnʼt a hockey market with the Chiefs and the history of the Chiefs? The mere fact that the Johnstown Chiefs is longest original city in the ECHL, thatʼs tradition.” A crowd of 1,974 attended Wednesdayʼs game after a disappointing 2,044 fans were at a Saturday night home opening loss to rival Wheeling. “The community, when you look at the numbers of the walk-up traffic and compare it league-wide, weʼre right there,” Roustan said. “Where weʼre below the league is corporate sponsorship. We have a lot of corporate sponsors doing small packages, but in the dollar number weʼre last in the league. “Weʼve got the tradition here, but weʼre last in the league in corporate sponsorship.” Roustan is encouraged by the reaction of the regionʼs business and community leaders. “Phenomenal,” Roustan said of the local response. “Iʼve met with the Chamber of Commerce. Iʼve met with leading companies. Iʼve met with individuals from Congressman Murthaʼs office. Everybody is saying the same thing, ʻWe love the Chiefs. The Chiefs belong here. If they were to leave, the economic impact would be substantial to Johnstown.ʼ Quality of life issues are always being talked about. Iʼm hearing all the right things. We need to find a solution to keep the team here.”

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12-10-29 3:36 PM

Chiefs’ future may rest on November » Chiefs » The Tribune ...

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When it was suggested that Johnstownʼs hockey fans have heard similar pledges of support in the past that never truly came to fruition, Roustan said: “What weʼve done in the last week or two has really reached out to the community. Theyʼre asking, ʻGraeme are you committed to this team? Are you committed to keeping this team here?ʼ Itʼs a partnership, a marriage. “Iʼve got to make a decision. Iʼve got to make a call on Nov. 30. Itʼs going to be a gut call. Iʼve got to find out who is going to step up and be my partner and who is going to step up in the corporate sponsorship group and commit to me that theyʼre going to partner up with me and keep the team here.” The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:36 PM

Commissioners move on having outside firm operate War Memo...

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November 10, 2008

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Commissioners move on having outside firm operate War Memorial (http://tribune-democrat.com/chiefs
/x519177916/Commissioners-move-on-having-outsidefirm-operate-War-Memorial)
BY SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — The Cambria County Commissioners took a first step Monday toward privatizing some or all of the operation of the War Memorial Arena in Johnstown. The commissioners began mailing to interested companies and enterprises details of what should be included in proposals for the management of both the arena and the North Central Recreation Center (NCRC) near Ebensburg. Both have been managed by the Cambria County War Memorial Authority and Jim Vautar, the arenaʼs general manager. Both facilities are owned by the county. But a professional study completed last month recommended placing the arena in the hands of a private operator if the facilityʼs finances are to be stabilized and if the Johnstown Chiefs are to remain as the primary tenant. The proposed switch to a private operator, however, isnʼt getting a lot of support from the War Memorial Authority, Chairman Jack Steeves said. “We still want to operate it. We think we do a good job at it,” he said.

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12-10-29 3:37 PM

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Mentioning that more shows and events are being scheduled than before, Steeves said, “This may be the first (fiscal) year we do not ask the county for a dime.” He complained that the commissioners have not talked with authority members about any steps being taken. While the commissioners have said that all options are open – including the possibility of only having a private operator handle limited responsibilities, they are asking for proposals that could include the complete management of the facility. The proposals are due Nov. 26 in the commissionersʼ office. The initial contract(s) would be for five years and could be extended by mutual agreement, the commissioners said. “Initially they will be reviewed by the commissioners, because we have the ultimate responsibility. We then will review them with the business partnership and the War Memorial Authority,” President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said. How soon a final decision will be made is not certain, he said. “We will make a decision as soon as possible. We donʼt want to push it. We want to see whatʼs out there and what they (proposals) really have to offer,” he said. Under the proposed scope of work, the private operator would be responsible to obtain “a self-supporting ECHL team” for the arena. The Chiefs have been the home hockey team for years, but the club appears to be in trouble financially. In October, W. Graeme Roustan, whose company, Roustan United Arena Solutions, took over management of the team last summer, said that new sponsorship revenues of $380,000 a year were needed to keep the Chiefs in town. He has asked business and community leaders to make financial commitments by Nov. 15. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:37 PM

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November 13, 2008

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Businesses commit to Chiefs (http://tribunedemocrat.com/chiefs/x519178132/Businesses-committo-Chiefs)
BY MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Several local businesses have made new sponsorship commitments to the Johnstown Chiefs, although General Manager Bill Bredin conceded the ECHL team is well short of the $380,000 goal set a month ago. “Listen, weʼre absolutely thrilled with the response from the business community so far, as well as the support weʼve received from Bob Layo and the Chamber of Commerce,” Bredin said Thursday. “We have recently added major sponsors such as Crown American, The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, CTC and E.MAP, and we will continue to meet with other business leaders in the community.” Bredin declined to state the amount of new sponsorship dollars secured during the past month. W. Graeme Roustan, whose Richland Township-based company Roustan United Arena Solutions manages the Chiefs, met with 30 business, community and governmental leaders from Cambria County on Oct. 9. Roustan set the $380,000 goal for new sponsorship, hoping to add 28 sponsors and bring the Chiefs in line with the ECHL league average while increasing current sponsorship levels by 135 percent.
1 of 3 12-10-29 3:38 PM

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Roustan wanted the new sponsorship in place no later than Saturday. “Weʼve got a lot of support, and weʼve got a lot of stuff in the pipeline,” Bredin said, downplaying the original Nov. 15 target date. “It was kind of the perfect storm. People were waiting to see what other people were going to do.” Roustanʼs plan calls for four sponsors at $27,000 a year, eight at $17,000 and 16 at $8,500. Sponsorship deals may include the sponsors receiving advertising in Cambria County War Memorial Arena and on the dasher boards, season tickets or use of the suites, radio spots and public address announcements, Web site links and game program advertisement. “We believe that the Chiefs are an important community asset,” said Crown American President Mark Pasquerilla, whose business made a two-year sponsorship pledge. “Their games represent the largest venue for family entertainment in the region. The success of the Chiefs, being the largest tenant for the arena, is critical to the success and viability of the War Memorial.” The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies agreed to a two-year deal, and set up the Johnstown Hockey Supporters Fund, which enables businesses and individuals to make donations that go toward purchasing Chiefs tickets for children or groups. “We share the vision of the organization and expect the Chiefs to remain in Johnstown for years to come,” Community Foundation Executive Director Mike Kane said. Bredin said CTC extended its current agreement. “CTC has a long-standing history of support of the Chiefs because we understand the importance of the team in terms of quality-of-life issues for the community as well as direct economic impact that the team has on Johnstown,” CTC President Ed Sheehan said. “Weʼre excited about the direction of the team and believe that Roustan United will provide the solid leadership needed to preserve the rich Chiefs tradition in Johnstown.” E.MAP, a business coalition serving five counties, is another new sponsor. “Itʼs part of our mission to invest back into the local business community and be involved in endeavors that help keep our local economy strong,” said E.MAP President Jack Babich. Even though $380,000 wasnʼt raised in the past five weeks, Bredin said the drive is moving in the proper direction. “I get the sense that the community is hopeful that things will work out and the Chiefs will be here for the long term,” Bredin said. “At the end of the day, I think people are still waiting for a sign that there is a long-term commitment. Once we can go public with that, I think we would receive a big boost.” The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340
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November 17, 2008

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The Chiefs’ winning ways | Team’s goal: Boost in fan support, sponsorships (http://tribune-democrat.com
/chiefs/x519178408/The-Chiefs-winning-ways-Teams-goal-Boost-in-fan-support-sponsorships)
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

While the management of the Johnstown Chiefs has been courting business sponsors and awaiting Cambria Countyʼs decision on control of the War Memorial Arena, the hockey teamʼs players and coaches have been doing their part to increase interest in the team. Theyʼve been winning. A 3-1 Sunday loss at Dayton ended a seven-game winning streak, the second-longest run in the franchiseʼs 21-year history. At 10-4, the Chiefs are in first place in the ECHLʼs North Division and are tied with Alaska for the league high in victories. The team returns home this weekend for games against the Reading Royals (7:05 p.m. Friday) and Trenton Devils (7:05 p.m. Saturday). “Weʼve got a good bunch of guys, and nobody wants to let anyone down,” team Captain Randy Rowe told Mike Mastovich, The Tribune-Democratʼs hockey beat reporter. “Everyone is having fun. ... Everyone is adjusting to moving to Johnstown from wherever they came from. I think that helps when all the guys are out there to have fun.” Coach Ian Herbers put together the roster and affiliations with the Columbus and Colorado

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12-10-29 3:39 PM

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organizations of the NHL, and is guiding the Chiefsʼ early success on the ice. “Everybody is playing well and enjoying playing for each other and competing,” Herbers said Saturday. “This is a good group we have here. The guys want to play for each other, compete for each other and win together.” Meanwhile, Chiefs General Manager Bill Bredin is working on making the team a winner off the ice. He has been meeting with area business leaders in increasing sponsorships and is hoping the county decides to allow the Chiefsʼ management company – Roustan United Arena Solutions of Richland Township – to take over management of the War Memorial. Late last week, the team was short of its $380,000 sponsorship goal. But Bredin remains hopeful that things will work out so that the Chiefs can commit to remaining in Johnstown for years to come. Major sponsors include Crown American, The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, Concurrent Technologies Corp. and E.MAP. “Weʼre absolutely thrilled with the response from the business community so far, as well as the support weʼve received from Bob Layo and the (Greater Johnstown/Cambria County) Chamber of Commerce,” Bredin said. The Chiefs and Roustan initially hoped to reach their sponsorship goal by Nov. 15. The critical date is Dec. 1 – the day the team must finalize plans for the 2009-10 season. We were critical of the team for raising ticket prices in the offseason – despite the fact that the Chiefsʼ rates are among the lowest in the league. We continue to hope that can be addressed – for the sake of the fans and the team. Regardless, we applaud the efforts of Bredin and team management in attempting to secure the teamʼs future in Johnstown. And we applaud Herbers and his squad, who have been winning games – which is still the best way to bring fans to the arena. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:39 PM

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November 25, 2008

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Chiefs launch interactive educational program for kids (http://tribune-democrat.com/chiefs/x519178972
/Chiefs-launch-interactive-educational-program-for-kids)
BY MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The Johnstown region will be the site of a pilot youth hockey education program initiated through local cooperation and the international clout of the National Hockey League. “Taste of the Game” will provide elementary-aged students an opportunity to experience the sport while interacting with the ECHLʼs Johnstown Chiefs. The NHL supports the program, which includes the Chiefs, Roustan United Arena Solutions, Planet Ice Skating Center and the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerceʼs John B. Gunter Leadership Program. “We believe if we can get the kids playing hockey, they will carry it on and play hockey for recreation,” said Stephen Walkom, the NHLʼs senior vice president and director of officiating, during a Tuesday news conference at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. “They could experience something they probably never will experience if they donʼt get guidance to do it. The third thing is maybe theyʼll just come to love the game and understand the game from trying the game. We have all those three things working together.” The program is intended to raise awareness of hockey and provide an educational program at little or no cost to the community elementary schools. “Taste of the Game” consists of a field trip to the War Memorial or Planet Ice in Richland Township. Students attend a Chiefs
1 of 2 12-10-29 3:40 PM

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practice. They receive hockey equipment fitting instruction and then interact with players and coach Ian Herbers in off-ice and on-ice instruction. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:40 PM

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November 25, 2008

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Arena plan due today (http://tribune-democrat.com
/local/x519179030/Arena-plan-due-today)
BY MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Roustan United Arena Solutions will submit its Request for Proposal (RFP) to Cambria County by todayʼs deadline, according to Roustan President Scott Branovan. “Weʼve been working hard the past few weeks on preparing a solution for the countyʼs RFP,” Branovan said during a Tuesday morning news conference to announce a youth education hockey program. “Hopefully, the county will render their decision on whether or not they will privatize the War Memorial and the Northern Cambria Rec Center.” Roustan is one of the groups interested in managing Cambria County War Memorial Arena should the county commissioners opt to put the facility under private management based on an operational performance assessment of the arena that was released Sept. 30 by The Bassewitz Group. “We worked very hard on providing a solution that we think will present an economic model that will allow the facility to sustain itself and eliminate subsidies for both public facilities moving forward,” said Branovan, whose group already operates Planet Ice in Richland Township. “We formed a partnership with a group called Global Spectrum out of Philadelphia,” he

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12-10-29 3:41 PM

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added. “We worked in conjunction with them in our RFP presentation.” The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:41 PM

Youths to get a taste of hockey » Chiefs » The Tribune Democrat...

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November 26, 2008

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Youths to get a taste of hockey (http://tribunedemocrat.com/chiefs/x519179044/Youths-to-get-a-tasteof-hockey)
By MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The Johnstown region will be the site of a pilot youth hockey education program initiated through local cooperation and the international clout of the NHL. “Taste of the Game” will provide elementary-aged students with an opportunity to experience the sport while interacting with the ECHLʼs Johnstown Chiefs. The NHL supports the program, which includes the Chiefs, Roustan United Arena Solutions, Planet Ice Skating Center and the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerceʼs John B. Gunter Leadership Program. “We believe if we can get the kids playing hockey, they will carry it on and play hockey for recreation,” Stephen Walkom, the NHLʼs senior vice president and director of officiating, said during a Tuesday news conference at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. “They could experience something they probably never will experience if they donʼt get guidance to do it,” Walkom said. “The third thing is maybe theyʼll just come to love the game and understand the game from trying the game. We have all those three things working together.” The program is intended to raise awareness of hockey and provide an educational program
1 of 2 12-10-29 3:44 PM

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at little or no cost to the community elementary schools. “Taste of the Game” consists of a field trip to the War Memorial or Planet Ice in Richland Township. Students will attend a Chiefs practice, receive hockey equipment fitting instruction, and then interact with players and coach Ian Herbers in off-ice and on-ice instruction. “In our initial strategic planning meeting, we recognized that awareness of the sport for this market is at the core of the strategies we needed to embrace in moving forward,” said Roustan United Arena Solutions President Scott Branovan, whose company also manages the Chiefs. “When we talk about awareness, itʼs not only awareness for fans, but also for participation in Tier I and Tier II hockey. “As we began to explore tactics to help raise that awareness in Cambria County, there are several stakeholders that weʼve joined together with to create what I feel is going to be a pilot here in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, that will be duplicated and expanded throughout North America. This is a classic example of how several organizations can work in concert to bring value-added programs to our community.” The John B. Gunter Leadership Program is designed to develop leadership in the region by promoting community volunteerism. Participants develop a project team and work together on a community project. “The ʻTaste of the Gameʼ program is designed to raise awareness of the game of hockey,” Branovan said. “Itʼs also designed to provide the program at little or no cost to the community elementary schools. Itʼs designed to reinforce the importance of physical activity as a means of healthy lifestyles of young people. Itʼs also to provide a platform for Cambria County to become involved with the fabric of the Johnstown Chiefs and the National Hockey League link with the kids in our community.” Chiefs General Manager Bill Bredin believes putting the students on the ice will enhance interest. “Most kids know what it smells like to run across fresh-mowed grass,” Bredin said. “They know what it feels like to slide into the dirt and they certainly know what it feels like to sit with their family and watch a football game. “For a lot of kids that have not had a chance to experience hockey at this level, to have a chance to experience a Chiefs practice and put the gear on and glide across the ice and feel that cool breeze across their face is an unbelievable opportunity. Weʼre confident itʼs something that will stick with them for a lifetime.” The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:44 PM

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December 1, 2008

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Officials reviewing arena proposals (http://tribunedemocrat.com/chiefs/x519179470/Officials-reviewingarena-proposals)
BY SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — Cambria County commissioners began Monday reviewing the detailed proposals received from four companies for some or all of the management operations at the War Memorial Arena and its North Central Recreation Center. Three of the proposals appeared to be more comprehensive than a limited one submitted by Spinwilde Productions of 1716 Forest Hills Drive, Windber, President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said. The others are from Roustan United of Jari Drive, Richland Township; RG Sports and Entertainment of Philadelphia and Cranston, R.I.; and SMG Worldwide Entertainment of Philadelphia. Monday was the first day for the commissioners to be back in their offices following a long Thanksgiving holiday, in which the courthouse was closed Thursday and Friday. Details of the proposals were not made public because, as proposals are for services and not bids, the commissioners could negotiate some items in drawing up a contract or contracts, Stevens said. The proposals had been due by 2 p.m. Wednesday. A fifth proposal was disqualified
1 of 2 12-10-29 3:45 PM

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because it failed to meet the deadline, Stevens said. “I anticipate we will schedule interviews with the (four) respondents,” he said. Once all of the information is gathered, “we will make a decision on whether all or some of the services will be implemented, including a function for the War Memorial Authority.” “It could be one, or a combination, in coming up with a winning solution,” he said. A study by the Bassewitz Group completed in October recommended placing the arena in the hands of a private operator if the facilityʼs finances are to be stabilized and if the Johnstown Chiefs are to remain as the primary tenant. The arena has been managed by the Cambria County War Memorial Authority and Jim Vautar, the arenaʼs general manager. The commissioners had specified that the private operator would be responsible for obtaining “a self-supporting ECHL team” for the arena. Roustan United took over management of the team last summer, but has said that new sponsorship revenues were needed to keep the Chiefs in Johnstown. Stevens said that he anticipates that members of the Greater Johnstown Partnership – which paid half of the $37,500 cost of the study – would be consulted by the commissioners after the interviews with the companies are completed. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:45 PM

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December 11, 2008

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Officials weigh proposals for arena operations
(http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519180242/Officialsweigh-proposals-for-arena-operations)
BY SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — Cambria County commissioners hope to decide by the end of December the future management structure for the War Memorial Arena. Five private management companies submitted proposals for operating the Johnstown arena. “Hopefully weʼll have a decision by then so they (companies) can make plans, too,” President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said Thursday. The commissioners have not revealed details of the proposals, saying that they could negotiate some items in drawing up a contract for the work. The scope of work includes possible day-to-day management of the county-owned arena and North Central Recreation Center near Ebensburg, food concessions, ticket sales and a self-supporting ECHL team for the arena. Both the arena and rec center have been managed by the county War Memorial Authority and its staff. The commissioners already have met with representatives of one company – Roustan
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United of 195 Jari Drive, Richland Township – and are scheduling meetings with the others, Stevens said. Roustan United, which has submitted a comprehensive proposal, has said that it formed a partnership with Global Spectrum of Philadelphia in drawing up its management plan. Roustan operates Planet Ice in Richland and manages the Johnstown Chiefs, which is the arenaʼs main draw. Proposals also were received from: • RG Sports and Entertainment of Cranston, R.I., which manages a number of arenas in the U.S. and Canada and also owns the Victoria Salmon Kings in British Columbia. • SMG Worldwide Entertainment of Philadelphia, which manages stadiums, arenas, convention centers and theaters worldwide, including Pittsburghʼs Mellon Arena. • Spin Wilde Production of 1716 Forest Hills Drive, Windber, a company founded by Cambria County native Ron Grigg, who has been an entertainment producer for 20 years based on the West Coast. • Ilumina Business Associates, 136 Jaycee Drive, Richland Township, an advertising and marketing strategy business head by Sharon Barto. The commissioners originally said that they would not consider Iluminaʼs proposal because it came in after the 2 p.m. Nov. 26 deadline. But later, Stevens said it would be reviewed because it is a proposal, not a bid, and was timed in at 2:03 p.m., opening the possibility the clock was off by a few minutes. A study by the Bassewitz Group completed in October recommended placing the arena in the hands of a private operator if the War Memorialʼs finances are to be stabilized and if the Chiefs are to remain as the primary tenant. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:46 PM

Commissioners decide on War Memorial manager » Local News...

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December 23, 2008

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Commissioners decide on War Memorial manager
(http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519181144 /Commissioners-decide-on-War-Memorial-manager)
By SHAWN PIATEK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Management of the War Memorial Arena soon could be in the hands of a Philadelphia company after the Cambria County commissioners on Monday reached a deal to privatize operations of the facility. Contract negotiations are pending, but the commissioners have signed a letter of intent with Global Spectrum, which is partnered with Roustan United of Richland Township. Roustan is managing the arenaʼs primary tenant, the ECHL Johnstown Chiefs. Global Spectrum is one of the nationʼs leading managers of public assembly venues, with almost 80 facilities, including arenas, stadiums and convention centers, under its leadership. The commissioners said no details of the deal will be known until a contract is finalized. Negotiations are expected to begin early next month. Much about the deal signaled good signs for the Chiefsʼ future in the city. But the commissioners said the status of the hockey team did not weigh heavily on their decision to get a deal done late on Monday.

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12-10-29 3:47 PM

Commissioners decide on War Memorial manager » Local News...

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“The decision to go with Global Spectrum was made because they met the objectives of the study,” said P.J. Stevens, president commissioner. “They have an exciting network that can bring exciting entertainment to the city. If there is a possibility that through this arrangement we can keep the Chiefs, thatʼs great. But weʼre not promising that will happen.” The timing of the letter of intent was perfectly aligned with an important deadline held by the ECHL. Any team seeking to suspend operations for a year in order to relocate or for any number of reasons must have made that request by Monday. ECHL Commissioner Bryan McKenna explained on Tuesday that not filing for a cease of operations means the Chiefs likely will be back next season. A team that does not file the request and does not receive permission to suspend yet fails to operate the following season risks losing the franchise. McKenna explained that each case is reviewed individually, and the league has made exceptions in special cases for franchises that had to suspend due to circumstances beyond their control. Roustan leaders announced earlier this year that if the right conditions were met – including taking over management of the arena – that they would purchase the team from owner Neil Smith and keep the franchise in town. Scott Branovan, president and CEO of Roustan United, would not commit on Tuesday to keeping the franchise in the city. He said other conditions needed to be met in order for the team to become self-sustaining, making it possible for the company to keep the Chiefs in Johnstown. The county commissioners recognized the ECHL deadline as a reason for making their decision on Monday. But they would not say that keeping the Chiefs was a primary motivation for choosing Global Spectrum. “We also had to suppose, ʻWhat if there was no team?ʼ ” Stevens said. “ ʻWhich entity would keep the War Memorial a viable and vibrant attraction?ʼ There may or may not be the Chiefs in the arenaʼs future, and we needed someone to keep the arena humming. We felt Global Spectrum was the best suited to accomplish that end.” Prominent downtown Johnstown businessman Mark Pasquerilla said the future of the Chiefs should have been a primary concern in the process of finding a private management team for the arena. Pasquerilla, also a member of the Greater Johnstown Regional Partnership, said the franchise is vital to downtown business and nightlife. “I think saying this isnʼt about the Chiefs is like saying building PNC Park wasnʼt about keeping the Pirates in Pittsburgh,” Pasquerilla said, noting he is not involved in negotiations. “Thatʼs how pro sports are.” Pasquerilla added that Mondayʼs development should be viewed as a victory for the region. He said that while a lot of work remains to keep the team in town, this was an important first step.

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12-10-29 3:47 PM

Commissioners decide on War Memorial manager » Local News...

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County Commissioner Milan Gjurich noted the importance of the Chiefs as the primary tenant for the arena. He said the Chiefs make up about 70 percent of the events scheduled at the War Memorial. Gjurich said the commissioners approach this process with three main objectives: Limit time and funding in operation and maintenance of the arena and North Central Recreation Center (also included in the deal); increase the use of both facilities; and sustain the Chiefs as the primary tenant in the arena. “This solution achieved all three of the goals,” Gjurich said. “We want the War Memorial to be an attraction not just for Cambria County but also for neighboring counties. We have to start taking a regional approach as far as the War Memorial is concerned.” The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:47 PM

Problems with surface force postponement » Chiefs » The Tribu...

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December 28, 2008

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Problems with surface force postponement
(http://tribunedemocrat.com/chiefs /x519181414/Problemswith-surface-forcepostponement)
By MATT JORDAN
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Chiefs General Manager Bill Bredin talks on his cell phone as Elmira defenseman Joe Grimaldi looks on during a delay at Cambria County War Memorial Arena on Saturday night. A problem with the ice forced the game to be postponed until 1 p.m. today. John Rucosky

More than 2,500 fans crossed through the Cambria County War Memorial Arena turnstiles ready to watch the Johnstown Chiefs try to get back into a first-place tie atop the ECHLʼs North Division on Saturday. Instead, those fans left disgruntled, as a chunk of ice around one goal post was deemed unsafe for play. As a result, the Chiefs and visiting Elmira Jackals had their game suspended until 1 p.m. today. “Iʼm extremely disappointed for the fans that are here,” Chiefs minority owner Ned Nakles said. “We really appreciate them being here. “Itʼs important for them to know that this is not a team issue. This is an arena issue. This is the type of problem that we hope the future changes will help to avoid. I just want to express my extreme gratitude to the fans that were here and hope that they will bear with the team
1 of 3 12-10-29 3:49 PM

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and keep coming out to support us. I know things will be better.” Nakles was referencing the recent decision by Cambria County commissioners to turn management of the War Memorial over to Global Spectrum, a partner of Roustan United, which operates the Chiefs. War Memorial General Manager Jim Vautar was unaware of a problem in the early stages. “Hockey was played all day,” he said. “I think we had two rentals in the morning. They did their pregame warmup and no one said anything about it. I didnʼt really know what happened. We looked up at 7 p.m. and we thought they were delaying the game because one of the ticket computers went down and the lobby was full of people. Our version of why it was delayed was to get all the people in. “When it expanded to quarter of 8, Iʼm going, ʻSomethingʼs really wrong.ʼ ” The problem first surfaced after the pregame skate, according to Chiefs General Manager Bill Bredin. “I first became aware of a problem on the ice at the end of warmup,” Bredin said. “I was made aware when the visiting team trainer reported to the officials that there was a problem. At that point, I went to the Zamboni area to talk to the ice crew and make them aware. They tried to address the situation as early as they could, but itʼs a situation where it was out of their hands. “There was nothing that could be done that we didnʼt try. We packed the hole with ice, sprayed it with CO2, but it wouldnʼt set to the point where we felt it was comfortable for the safety of the players.” Bredin said the decision to postpone was made as a group decision that included Bredin, Chiefs coach Ian Herbers, Jackals coach Steve Martinson, the officials and the leagueʼs senior vice president of hockey operations, Rod Pasma. The decision to postpone was made around 8:30 p.m., or 90 minutes after the scheduled start. “Youʼd think Bill Bredin, an ex-referee, would know the safety of playing so we left it in his hands as to what the call was,” Vautar said. “This is uncharted waters, because weʼve never had a game canceled due to ice failure, even though weʼve run several monster truck shows and had some delays. But nothing of this sort, where you have 17,000 square feet of ice, and then itʼs 6 inches that causes you to cancel the game. This wasnʼt called at the War Memorial level. It was called at the executive level, the referees and the teams, and for the safety of both teams.” The affected spot came at the end that visiting Elmira would have defended twice, including the opening period. Martinson said his goaltender told him after warmups that there was a big hole in the ice. “Iʼve learned to not spend a lot of time stressing things completely out of my control,” said Martinson, whose team held an optional skate after the cancellation. “Having an ice problem – obviously they didnʼt plan for it and we didnʼt plan for it – you just have to deal with it.”

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12-10-29 3:49 PM

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Dealing with it was easier said than done for fan Michael Seddon, who traveled from Philadelphia for the game, and was heading back afterward. “I really think that instead of being prima donna professional athletes, they should have just sucked it up and said ʻThereʼs a bunch of people that came to see us play. They spent their Saturday afternoons to come out and see us play,ʼ ” said Seddon, who said he won a state hockey championship at the War Memorial as a member of West Chester East in 1982. “Now theyʼre not going to come out and play because thereʼs a little spot in the ice? I think it was a couple stubborn hockey players. “At some point you need to not be a baby. The bigger issue is the crowd. They pay your salaries and theyʼre the ones that youʼre letting down.” Herbers echoed Bredin, citing the safety of his players as the tantamount concern. “With a nice full building, we wanted to play in front of (those fans),” Herbers said. “Unfortunately, with the ice conditions, itʼs just unhealthy for either goalie. We donʼt want someone hurt and ruining their career, and being done playing for life.” Fans with tickets to Saturday nightʼs game can use them to attend this afternoonʼs contest. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:49 PM

Arena talks progressing slowly » Local News » The Tribune D...

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January 31, 2009

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Arena talks progressing slowly (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local/x519184178/Arena-talks-progressingslowly)
BY SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — The Cambria County commissioners said Friday that contract talks are going slowly for privatizing operations of the War Memorial Arena in Johnstown. In late December, the commissioners reported they had signed a letter of intent with Global Spectrum – a partner with Roustan United of Richland Township – for operating the arena. Roustan United is managing the arenaʼs primary tenant, the ECHL Johnstown Chiefs. President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said that the negotiations are being conducted on the countyʼs behalf by Steve Patterson, a consultant/attorney with ProSports. “There has been one round of talks with the Chiefs. Weʼre still waiting to hear from Global. It really hasnʼt progressed much. Weʼre waiting to see what their projections are and to see whether we can accommodate the Chiefs,” Stevens said. Global Spectrum is one of the nationʼs leading managers of public assembly venues, with almost 80 facilities – including arenas, stadiums and convention centers – under its leadership. Asked whether there is a timetable for having a contract in place, Stevens said, “No, the ball
1 of 2 12-10-29 3:53 PM

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is in their court.” Meanwhile, the status quo on operations continue at the War Memorial with the staff still in place and operating under the War Memorial Arenaʼs oversight. A study by the Bassewitz Group completed in October recommended that the arena be placed in the hands of a private operator if the War Memorialʼs finances are to be stablized and if the Chiefs are to remain as the primary tenants. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:53 PM

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February 28, 2009

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Arena talks ongoing, commissioners say
(http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519186538/Arenatalks-ongoing-commissioners-say)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — Although a management agreement has not yet been reached for the Cambria County War Memorial Arena, the county commissioners said Friday that negotiations are not stalled. In late December, the commissioners signed a letter of intent with Global Spectrum for operating the arena. The letter of intent calls for a 10-year agreement that was to have been in effect by Feb. 15. Now, a more “practical” timetable could have a deal in place by July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said. Global, one of the nationʼs leading managers of public assembly venues, partnered with Roustan United of Richland Township in seeking the management contract. Roustan is managing the arenaʼs primary tenant, the Johnstown Chiefs hockey team. Global also would be responsible for operating the countyʼs North Central Recreation Center, near Ebensburg, although Global would be allowed to subcontract Rec Center work out, according to the letter of intent. “Negotiations are ongoing. Itʼs a matter of coming to terms to protect the interests of the
1 of 2 12-10-29 3:56 PM

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citizens of Cambria County and fulfilling the goals set by the study done earlier,” Stevens said. Representatives of both Global and the Chiefs are involved in the talks along with the countyʼs consultant, ProSports, the commissioners said. A study completed in October recommended placing some or all of the arena operations in the hands of a private company in order to stabilize the War Memorial's finances and to keep the Johnstown Chiefs team as the primary tenant. The county, in seeking management proposals, said that a private operator of the arena would be responsible for obtaining “a self-supporting ECHL team” for the facility. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:56 PM

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March 6, 2009

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Easing ahead on arena deal | County’s commitment to privatization applauded (http://tribunedemocrat.com/editorials/x519187016/Easing-aheadon-arena-deal-County-s-commitment-to-privatizationapplauded)
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

We are encouraged by Cambria Countyʼs apparent commitment to getting a deal done to privatize control of the War Memorial Arena. And we remain convinced that private management of the arena is the best way to go. An original deadline of Feb. 15 for getting a deal done has come and gone. Now, the county commissioners say July 1 is when we should expect a contract to be reached with Global Spectrum. “Negotiations are ongoing,” President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said in our story last weekend. “Itʼs a matter of coming to terms to protect the interests of the citizens of Cambria County and fulfilling the goals set by the study done earlier.” Thatʼs exactly what the commissioners were elected to do – make sound decisions about utilizing taxpayer resources to the benefit of the county. We expect that, ultimately, a deal will get done with Global – or another company should
1 of 2 12-10-29 3:57 PM

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Global lose patience. But the commissioners should move with reasonable speed – without making a hasty decision that could saddle the county with a long-term contract that does not accomplish the goals of making the arena a more viable local sports and entertainment venue. We would also hope that Roustan United, the management company running the Johnstown Chiefs, would recognize the countyʼs need to make the best possible deal for taxpayers as well as the hockey franchise. Roustan should likewise show patience, doing all in its power to support the Chiefs as a business enterprise, understanding that privatization of the arena – even if it doesnʼt get done until mid-summer – will benefit the hockey team in the long run. A study completed last fall recommended that the county move to privatize the operations of the arena, and that the county strive to ensure the long-term viability of the arenaʼs No. 1 tenant – the Chiefs. Provided talks are being done in that spirit, the end result will be worth the wait. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:57 PM

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March 30, 2009

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NEW -- War Memorial talks collapse (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local/x519189038/NEW-War-Memorialtalks-collapse)
RANDY GRIFFITH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

JOHNSTOWN — Plans to privatize operations of the War Memorial Arena were dealt a major setback when contract talks with the ECHL Johnstown Chiefs management company were scrapped, Cambria County commissioners announced today. After months of slow negotiations, contract proposals by Roustan United of Richland and its partner Global Spectrum were asking too much, Chairman P.J. Stevens said. The decision raises doubts about the Chiefsʼ future in Johnstown. Commissioners balked what they say was an unexpected switch placing Roustan as the primary manager of all War Memorial operations, and the companiesʼ refusal to cap the countyʼs annual allotment to the operation. “It really constituted a blank check to what we have to contribute to support the arena,” Stevens said today during an exclusive meeting with The Tribune-Democrat editorial board. “We have come to the conclusion on the behalf of the taxpayers, that the solution with Roustan as the lead of the management just cannot work.” Global, in partnership with Roustan, was selected for further negotiations from among
1 of 2 12-10-29 3:58 PM

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several firms responding to the countyʼs request for proposals under a Bassewitz Group study last year. The study recommended the arena be placed in the hands of a private operator to stabilize the facility's finances a and keep the Chiefs as the primary tenant. Commissioners remain committed to those goals and pledged to pursue more options – including other companies responding to the original request. “Two things that are constant: To meet the objectives of the study, and to keep the Chiefs,” Stevens said. “Thatʼs still our ultimate goal.” The Roustan-global business model is the best fit to meet the objectives of the study, Roustan spokesman Scott Branovan said today, warning that the team canʼt remain in Johnstown under current management by the War Memorial Authority. The East Coast Hockey League has given an April 10 deadline for Roustan to say if the team will be in the league next year, Branovan said. Asked if the team will negotiate a lease for the War Memorial separate from a Roustan-led management agreement for the facility, Branovan responded: “Anything that is in line with the (countyʼs request for proposals) and the Bassewitz study, we believe would be in the best interests of the team. We have a time element that is running out. We have worked for several months now negotiating in good faith.”

The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 3:58 PM

Arena deal off: Contract stalemate puts Chiefs’ future in doubt ...

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March 30, 2009

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Arena deal off: Contract stalemate puts Chiefs’ future in doubt (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local /x519189064/Arenadeal-off-Contractstalemate-puts-Chiefs-future-in-doubt)
By RANDY GRIFFITH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Cambria County War Memorial Arena is shown on Monday. Contract talks between the county and Roustan United of Richland and its partner, Global Spectrum, to operate the arena have broken off, commissioners said John Rucosky

Plans to privatize operations of the War Memorial Arena were dealt a major setback when contract talks with the ECHL Johnstown Chiefs management company were scrapped, Cambria County commissioners announced Monday. After months of slow negotiations, contract proposals by Roustan United of Richland and its partner Global Spectrum were asking too much, Chairman P.J. Stevens said. The breakdown raises doubts about the Chiefsʼ future in Johnstown. Commissioners balked what they say was an unexpected switch placing Roustan as the primary manager of all War Memorial operations, and the companiesʼ refusal to cap the countyʼs annual allocation to the operation.

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Arena deal off: Contract stalemate puts Chiefs’ future in doubt ...

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“It really constituted a blank check to what we have to contribute to support the arena,” Stevens said during an exclusive meeting with The Tribune-Democrat editorial board. “We have come to the conclusion on the behalf of the taxpayers that the solution with Roustan as the lead of the management just cannot work.” Global, in partnership with Roustan, was selected for further negotiations from among several firms responding to the countyʼs request for proposals under a Bassewitz Group study last year. The study recommended the arena be placed in the hands of a private operator to stabilize the facilityʼs finances and keep the Chiefs as the primary tenant. Commissioners remain committed to those goals and pledged to pursue more options – including other companies responding to the original request. “Two things that are constant: To meet the objectives of the study and to keep the Chiefs,”  Stevens said. “Thatʼs still our ultimate goal.” The Roustan-Global business model is the best fit to meet the objectives of the study, Roustan President Scott Branovan said today, warning that the team canʼt afford to remain in Johns-town under current management by the War Memorial Authority. The East Coast Hockey League has given an April 10 deadline for Roustan to say if the team will be in the league next year, Branovan said. Asked if the team will negotiate a lease for the War Memorial separate from a Roustan-led management agreement for the facility, Branovan responded: “Anything that is in line with the (countyʼs request for proposals) and the Bassewitz study, we believe would be in the best interests of the team. We have a time element that is running out. We have worked for several months now negotiating in good faith.” Local business leader Mark Pasquerilla hopes the deal can still be reached. “I am not saying what they are saying are not legitimate concerns,” Pasquerilla said by phone. “At the end of the day, there are not a lot of options for the Chiefs. I am still optimistic about the privatization plan. I would work with the parties to broker an acceptable agreement.” Commissioners said they feel Roustan and Global were less than straightforward in negotiations. While the original proposal came from Roustan, the county insisted that Global take the lead to manage the facility, with Roustanʼs Chiefs as a tenant. Global has a reputation of operating high-caliber venues, Stevens said. “When we first started, Roustan said they wanted everything or nothing. We said, ʻNo,ʼ ” Commissioner Milan Gjurich said. “We liked Global, and Roustan said the only company they would work with would be Global.” “It made sense to pursue that,” Commissioner William Harris said.

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12-10-29 3:58 PM

Arena deal off: Contract stalemate puts Chiefs’ future in doubt ...

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Pressure to keep the Chiefs in the arena led the county to set aside other proposals. Five private management companies submitted proposals last year for running some or all of the arenaʼs operations and that of North Central Recreation Center. Both are county-owned facilities. “If Iʼm going to be frank with you, I think we were being squeezed to some degree,” Stevens said. “Thatʼs business, though.” Negotiations with Global were on track to produce an agreement, commissioners thought, when the companies asked for a meeting March 19 to present their financial model for the operation. Two plans were presented. Globalʼs was too expensive, and Roustanʼs again put the Chiefʼs managers in charge of the county facility. “We were taken for a loop,” Stevens said. Worse, both plans called for increased county financial support for operations and put taxpayers on the hook for unexpected losses. Global estimated it would require $318,000 in government support during the fiscal year that begins July 1. So far this fiscal year, the War Memorial Authority has received just $25,000 in county funds, Gjurich said. Roustanʼs plan addressed all the studyʼs issues and provided the only model allowable for a private company to manage the facility in light of tax laws associated with tax-exempt government bonds used to finance recent renovations, Branovan said. “There is no interest pursuing anything outside of the economic model outlined by the sports professionals from the Bassewitz Group,” Branovan said. “Roustan and Global Spectrumʼs response was in line with the Bassewitz Group Study and the request for proposal.” Moving forward, the county will review its options, focusing on the Bassewitz Group studyʼs goals, Stevens said. Those include re-examining other companiesʼ plans and taking a second look at current operations. The wide-ranging report was critical of the arenaʼs fiscal operations, citing concession operations, the need for a computerized ticket system and stressed more events could be held there. But things have improved since the report came out in October, commissioners said. “Whether itʼs because of good fortune, or people at the War Memorial just bumped up their efforts under pressure, we should consider that (option),” Stevens said. “They earned the right for us to look at bringing them help, whether it be consulting, and then charge them with meeting the objectives of the study.” Roustan and Global can come back with new proposals, Stevens added. “We are not shutting anybody out. Especially, we are not shutting out the Chiefs,” he said.

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12-10-29 3:58 PM

Arena deal off: Contract stalemate puts Chiefs’ future in doubt ...

http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519189064/Arena-deal-off-...

adding the county hopes to resume lease negotiations with the team for next season.

The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

4 of 4

12-10-29 3:58 PM

County, Chiefs face off on arena » Local News » The Tribune ...

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April 1, 2009

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County, Chiefs face off on arena (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local/x519189146/County-Chiefs-face-offon-arena)
Team is evaluating 'economic options' By RANDY GRIFFITH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The blue line is drawn on the ice. Cambria County commissioners said Monday they would not consider turning over War Memorial management to the primary tenant. The management company for the ECHL Johnstown Chiefs says that is the only arrangement that will keep the team active. “The only viable economic solution calls for one cost-efficient organization to operate the Chiefs and the Cambria County War Memorial (Arena),” Roustan United Arena Solutions President Scott Branovan said in a written response to commissionersʼ request to resume lease negotiations for the team. During a meeting Monday with The Tribune-Democratʼs editorial board, county commissioners announced they were breaking off negotiations for an arena management contract.

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12-10-29 4:00 PM

County, Chiefs face off on arena » Local News » The Tribune ...

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Branovan said he was blindsided by the news. Roustan United of Richland, working in partnership with Global Spectrum of Philadelphia, submitted a proposal last year to manage all War Memorial operations for the county. Commissioners asked for proposals after a county-sponsored study issued a scathing report on arena operations, strongly recommending a privatization plan. Private management would be the best way to reduce taxpayer support for the arena, bring in more events and keep the Chiefs in Johnstown, concluded the report by The Bassewitz Group, Spike Consulting Group and Pro Sports Consulting. The consultants roundly criticized current operations, noting drops in attendance and the number of events during the past six years. “In simplest terms, the existing staff and management are not effectively booking the venue with paid ticketed events,” the report said. Problems were found with concession sales, operations and accounting practices. The experts suggested reducing the size or splitting the 15-member War Memorial Authority into two governing bodies: One for operations and one to promote and schedule events. President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said the county realizes things must change. Thatʼs why commissioners were negotiating with Global, and why they asked Global to stick around to advise or help manage the facility. “We acknowledge that things have to be changed at the War Memorial itself,” Stevens said Tuesday. “It will not be a good old boys club. We need a 21st century system.” Change is crucial, Johnstown business leader Mark Pasquerilla said. “Business as usual isnʼt going to work,” Pasquerilla said Tuesday. “I think the arena faces a potential crisis. We need to have people managing the arena who are very interested in its success.” Pasquerilla admits he has a strong personal financial interest in the Chiefsʼ and War Memorialʼs success. His company owns the Holiday Inn-Downtown where most visiting teams book rooms. The restaurant and bar business sees increased traffic on days of arena events. Echoing the studyʼs concerns about current management, Pasquerilla said it is time to stop treating the War Memorial Authority as something sacred. “It has long been Cambria Countyʼs Vatican City,” Pasquerilla said. “Itʼs a state within the county. There are plenty of ways to get new ideas. You have to get into the governance.” But the countyʼs attorneys advised against putting the arenaʼs primary tenant in charge of managing the facility, Stevens said, adding that the companyʼs management proposal made the county taxpayers responsible for unexpected losses.

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12-10-29 4:00 PM

County, Chiefs face off on arena » Local News » The Tribune ...

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The commissionersʼ concern about responsibility for unanticipated losses is “unfounded,” Branovan said. After scrapping Roustanʼs offer Monday, commissioners on Tuesday took two steps to move forward on their promise to explore other options: The county sent an e-mail to Global Spectrum to see if the arena management experts would work as advisers or consultants with current War Memorial managers. Another e-mail went to Branovan, offering to resume lease negotiations with the Chiefs as a tenant, not a manager. “The (Bassewitz) study was clear that the Chiefs are not economically viable with any lease agreement whereby the Chiefs are not managing the Cambria County War Memorial,” Branovan responded by e-mail. “Now that the county has made an unexpected and surprising announcement to the press while we were working in good faith that you unilaterally ended negotiations with the GlobalRoustan team, we are vigorously pursuing viable economic options for the future of the ECHL Chiefs,” Branovan wrote. While the Bassewitz report does note the “most likely way to ensure success of the arena operation and ensure the viability of the Chiefs is to assign the arena management to the primary tenant under new ownership,” it is not the only option listed. The conclusions also note the Chiefs have a “fair lease” and should “explore all options” available through the privatization process.

The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 4:00 PM

Stay focused on privatization | Total structural change needed fo...

http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x519189338/Stay-focuse...

April 3, 2009

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Stay focused on privatization | Total structural change needed for arena (http://tribune-democrat.com
/editorials/x519189338/Stay-focused-on-privatizationTotal-structural-change-needed-for-arena)
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Despite the apparent failure of the Cambria County commissioners to seal a deal with the lead contender to operate the War Memorial Arena, we remain solidly behind privatization. Simply tweaking the current management structure is not in the best interests of the arena or the taxpayers. Financial and events statistics support that. A total structural change is the only logical answer to returning the arena to solid ground. The commissioners announced this past week that, for several reasons, they had decided to end negotiations that could have resulted in Roustan United of Richland Township being named arena manager. Roustan also manages the Johnstown Chiefs, the arenaʼs major tenant. That had added additional pressure to the talks. We have no reason, however, to doubt that the commissioners have validated their reasoning for rejecting Roustan. Of prime concern, according to President Commissioner P.J. Stevens, was that Roustan

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12-10-29 4:09 PM

Stay focused on privatization | Total structural change needed fo...

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negotiators had refused to cap the countyʼs annual allocation to the operation. “It really constituted a blank check to what we have to contribute to support the arena,” Stevens told our editorial board last week, adding that the commissioners werenʼt about to jeopardize taxpayer money. Added Commissioner William Harris, “I have recently lost confidence that Cambria County can reach an agreement with Roustan ... even with the help of Global Spectrum (of Philadelphia). This does not mean that changes should not be made for better accounting and accountability.” Absolutely. A lack of proper accountability was a major flaw uncovered by Bassewitz Group in a 2008 arena study commissioned by the countyʼs leaders. The wide-ranging report was critical of the arenaʼs fiscal operations and the handling of concessions, and pointed to a need for a computerized ticket system and for more events – something we have long seen as lacking. We also agree with the commissioners that it is extremely important to continue moving forward while doing everything reasonably possible to keep the Chiefs from leaving the city. Although the Chiefs continue to lose money at the gates, their presence here is a qualityof-life issue and their flight to another city would be just short of disastrous for our region as we continue to improve our economic lot. Hanging over all of this is a March 25 ECHL directive informing the Chiefs that the league was anticipating releasing next seasonʼs schedule by mid-April. It said in part: “If documentation of a lease and a firm commitment to play are not provided to the League by April 10, 2009, the Chiefs will not be included in the 2009-10 schedule.” While we donʼt question that the ECHL is eager for answers, we would hope that a deadline extension could be granted for one of its longest-running franchises. And although Neil Smith, the Chiefsʼ majority owner, has not been involved publicly with the latest arena dealings, he has indicated he might be willing to keep the team in town for yet another season in the hopes of working something out for the teamʼs long-term future here. Thatʼs admirable of Smith, who has had ownership since 2002. Meanwhile, Stevens said the commissioners will a) continue working to meet the objectives of the Bassewitz study, and b) do everything possible to retain the Chiefs. And in the wake of last weekʼs rather confusing give and take, Johnstown businessman Mark Pasquerilla, in addition to calling for changes in the arenaʼs operation, volunteered to help broker a deal for a new management team and to help in any negotiations to save the Chiefs. Thatʼs commendable. Weʼre sure the commissioners are open to any help from the business and corporate communities.

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Stay focused on privatization | Total structural change needed fo...

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“Business as usual isnʼt going to work,” Pasquerilla said. We agree. Perhaps the county should even consider bringing in an outside mediator. Stevens, meanwhile, promised “to revisit the RFPs (requests for proposals)” and to work with current arena leadership and get them help. For the long haul, we see privatization as the ultimate answer for the arena. We urge the commissioners to move toward that end. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 4:09 PM

Future of Chiefs remains uncertain » Chiefs » The Tribune Dem...

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April 8, 2009

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Future of Chiefs remains uncertain (http://tribunedemocrat.com/chiefs/x519189804/Future-of-Chiefsremains-uncertain)
BY MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

In the next few days, perhaps weʼll finally know the fate of Johnstownʼs ECHL Chiefs. We might also discover whether the Bassewitz Groupʼs Operational Performance Assessment of the War Memorial Arena is followed – regardless of who owns the Chiefs – or if the $37,500 study isnʼt worth the paper it was printed on back in September. Chiefs majority owner Neil Smith made his position clear in a Wednesday e-mail to The Tribune-Democrat that eventually was posted on the teamʼs Web site. Smith wrote: “As a result of the countyʼs decisions to ignore the independent economic feasibility study which they authorized and paid for, cease negotiations with the management of the Chiefs, and to continue to operate the Cambria County War Memorial Arena themselves, I am left with no alternative but to examine all options for the future of the Chiefs in Johnstown. These Cambria County decisions have taken away any hope that the Chiefs can survive economically in Johnstown. “Unfortunately my options include selling the team, moving the team or terminating the membership in the ECHL.”
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Smith did not return a phone call to The Tribune-Democrat on Wednesday night. Nor did Graeme Roustan, chairman and CEO of both Roustan United and Roustan Capital, which ironically emerged as one of at least 10 suitors hoping to purchase the storied $400 million Montreal Canadiens NHL franchise, according to published reports on Tuesday and Wednesday. Chiefs minority owner Ned Nakles could not be reached for comment. During a brief phone conversation on Tuesday night prior to his doing color commentary for a NHL game in San Jose, Smith responded to rumors that the teamʼs departure from Johnstown was imminent. “The team is not done,” Smith said Tuesday. “Itʼs just disappointing whatʼs gone on there with the county paying for a study to be done on how to maximize revenues for the building then go against their own study. Thatʼs where all the trouble emanates from. The county commissioners havenʼt really used their own study.” On March 30, the three Cambria County commissioners halted negotiations between the county and the tandem of Roustan United – current manager and prospective owner of the Chiefs – and renowned arena operator Global Spectrum. Roustan and Global Spectrum had submitted a Request For Proposal (RFP) as outlined in the Bassewitz study and negotiations to privatize the arena operations in accordance with the study had been ongoing to that point. The county was uneasy about a switch that put Roustan as the arenaʼs primary manager instead of Global. The commissionersʼ contention that Roustan refused to cap the countyʼs annual allocation to the arena also was a point of disagreement. Cambria County Commissioners P.J. Stevens and Bill Harris each said on Wednesday night that even with Global Spectrum out of the picture, the county is willing to continue negotiations to secure the Chiefs as a tenant. The Bassewitz study revealed the Chiefs accounted for 72 percent of events at the War Memorial. “We hope to meet with them pretty soon. Nothing is set but we hope so,” Stevens said Wednesday. “I hope a deal can be done. We want to keep the Chiefs as a tenant and thatʼs what weʼre working toward.” Stevens reiterated that Global Spectrum wonʼt be part of negotiations. “The way they wanted it structured wasnʼt doable or in the best interest of the taxpayers,” Stevens said. “Weʼre looking for a relationship with the Chiefs as a tenant. Weʼll address the War Memorial after we get this one put away.” The ECHL originally set a Jan. 20 deadline for teams to finalize plans for the 2009-10 season. The Chiefs had been granted an extension, but a tersely worded March 25 letter from ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna to Chiefs GM Bill Bredin stated, “If documentation of a lease and a firm commitment to play are not provided to the League by April 10, 2009, the Chiefs will not be included in the 2009-10 schedule.” McKenna has been a staunch supporter of the Chiefs, citing the franchiseʼs status as the

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only original member still playing in the same city. “Weʼre trying to get to the bottom of this,” McKenna said Tuesday. “Obviously weʼre not happy with the situation right now. The deadline was Jan. 20. Here we are now. We need to know whatʼs going on and continue to move forward.” McKenna said there is another important consideration that ultimately will affect the teamʼs success if it does return next season. “The longer it delays, people have got to realize that this is the selling point of the season,”  McKenna said. “Every week that goes by is $20,000 to $25,000 in lost opportunities in season tickets, partial season tickets, advertising and corporate sponsorship. Most of our teams already have 40, 50 or 60 percent of their sponsorship sold by now. From the teamʼs standpoint they are costing themselves a lot of money.” Harris is hoping that situation is addressed, perhaps as early as today. “Weʼve had some communications back and forth but there is not yet a final agreement with Roustan,” Harris said. “Weʼre still hoping we will be able to do a lease with the Chiefs that will be in an acceptable timeframe for the league, which is coming up on us. Weʼre still driving and trying. We hope that we can do a lease with the Chiefs, no matter who the manager of the War Memorial turns out to be. We still want to keep the Chiefs. Thatʼs the goal. We realize things are coming down to the wire here. Weʼre still communicating via e-mail and telephone. I spoke to them Tuesday evening. (Today) we three commissioners will be together up there (at the courthouse).” If the county discards the privatization recommendation, itʼs unlikely a deal will be reached with the Roustan group. In a conference call with The Tribune-Democrat last week, Roustanʼs Scott Branovan, president of the Chiefs, was disappointed that negotiations had broken off. “Letʼs get back to the central issue, which is the county paid for a study to be done,” Branovan said then. “The study outlined what is wrong and made some very clear recommendations. This is the recommendation of a $40,000 study that was done by some of the best sports executives in the business. They didnʼt have a hidden agenda. They didnʼt have a reason for doing anything other than to make a professional recommendation on how the county would not have to subsidize the War Memorial or the Northern Rec Center and how the Chiefs could sustain themselves. The study recommended a team-led single strategy with no duplication, all of the things that ended up going into the RFP (Request for Proposal). “It eliminates any further subsidies for the Northern Rec Center, and it minimizes the first year subsidies needed for the Cambria County War Memorial, and increases the number of non-hockey events to 103 events. The study shows there were 12 non-hockey events last year. So, (thatʼs a) drastic improvement in performance and a blended structure for the RFP.” Meanwhile rumors swirled of a potential Eastern Professional Hockey League team landing in Johnstown to replace the Chiefs.

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12-10-29 4:09 PM

Future of Chiefs remains uncertain » Chiefs » The Tribune Dem...

http://tribune-democrat.com/chiefs/x519189804/Future-of-Chief...

The EPHL is a few notches below the ECHL. In its infancy, the league is much closer to the East Coast Hockey League, circa 1988. EPHL Commissioner Jim Riggs was involved in the former All-American Hockey League during the Chiefsʼ first season and is familiar with Johnstown hockey. Riggs felt it was necessary to address talk of a EPHL team moving here. “On behalf of the Eastern Professional Hockey League, I want to clear up any confusion regarding the Eastern Professional Hockey Leagueʼs interest in Johnstown,” Riggs wrote via e-mail. “As Johnstown is and continues to be a proud member of the ECHL (since 1988), we have no interest in Johnstown as an expansion market. Mr. John Burley, through a third party, did contact us last week. However, at that time we made it very clear that we (the Eastern Professional Hockey League) do not go into markets that are already established by other professional hockey leagues. Outside of speaking with Mr. Burley on the phone, I have never met the man. We apologize for any confusion on this matter and wish both Johnstown and the Chiefs continued success in the ECHL.” A junior team named the Johnstown Junior A Jets lists the War Memorial as its home arena on the United Junior Hockey League Web site. McKenna hopes the Chiefs will remain the primary tenant at the arena. “Itʼs very important for us,” McKenna said. “There is a core base of fans there that know hockey and have supported ECHL hockey there for two decades. The Chiefs are very competitive on the ice. Itʼs an important market. We appreciate the tradition that Johnstown brings and we want to make sure that continues into the future.” The uncertainty has perplexed the teamʼs most devoted fans. Will they be purchasing season tickets or planning other winter excursions? The situation is frustrating for many, including longtime season ticket holder Randy Rowser of the West End. “It needs to be understood even for people who arenʼt hockey fans that the Chiefs are an entity that puts Johnstown on the map from New Jersey to Florida to California,” Rowser said. “Elected officials are expected to solve and overcome obstacles, not become them. Thatʼs not what they are elected for. The quality of life in this area continues to erode and this is a perfect example of just how it happens. If Johnstown were to lose their franchise, it has to be understood that getting it back would be too expensive to consider.” Rowser makes a good point. We donʼt need a $37,500 study to realize that much.

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 4:09 PM

Brokering an arena deal | Turn talks over to an independent agen...

http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x519189838/Brokering-a...

April 9, 2009

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Brokering an arena deal | Turn talks over to an independent agent (http://tribune-democrat.com
/editorials/x519189838/Brokering-an-arena-deal-Turntalks-over-to-an-independent-agent)
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The process of finding a private manager for the War Memorial Arena has become a snake pit of personal agendas, character attacks, half-truths and misdirection. We canʼt imagine a scenario where officials from Cambria County government, Roustan United, the Johnstown Chiefs and other parties involved could reach a decision that, first and foremost, addresses the needs of those who have the most at stake in the future of the arena – the taxpayers of the county and the residents and businesses of the Greater Johnstown region. For that reason, the county must find an objective and independent broker to forge a deal with a private entity to manage and market the War Memorial. Chiefs majority owner Neil Smith offered an assessment of the situation in an e-mail to The Tribune-Democrat on Wednesday. The statement, which reacted to a recent editorial and also addressed his plans for the Chiefs, could be read as either good news or bad news for the hockey team. “I have not ʻindicatedʼ any willingness to do anything with regards to the future of the

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Brokering an arena deal | Turn talks over to an independent agen...

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Johnstown Chiefs,” Smith wrote. “However, as a result of the Countyʼs decisions to ignore the independent economic feasibility study which they authorized and paid for, cease negotiations with the management of the Chiefs and to continue to operate the CCWMA themselves, I am left with no alternative but to examine all options for the future of the Chiefs in Johnstown. These Cambria County decisions have taken away any hope that the Chiefs can survive economically in Johnstown.” If one of those options is selling the team to someone with ties to our region, then the team might be saved in Johnstown. The ECHL has given the Chiefs an ultimatum: Show commitment to the league by today or not be included in the 2009-10 schedule. “Weʼre trying to get to the bottom of this,” ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna told The Tribune-Democrat. “Obviously weʼre not happy with the situation right now. The deadline was Jan. 20. Here we are now. We need to know whatʼs going on and continue to move forward.” The feasibility study Smith referred to was the 2008 report compiled by The Bassewitz Group, which the county and the Greater Johnstown Partnership co-funded at a price tag of $37,500. As weʼve previously discussed, the study made numerous recommendations for both the arena and its primary tenant, the Chiefs. The Bassewitz report also found numerous problems with the current operational system of the arena, where the War Memorial Authority oversees a team of employees led by a general manager. The study pointed out that the Chiefs account for 72 percent of all events, compared to a 29 percent average for teams in other venues across the ECHL. That means either that the Chiefs are an indispensable tenant, or there is much room for improvement in attracting activities beyond minor league hockey games. Probably both. Key recommendations included: * “Better operation and accounting controls are needed.” Indeed, the Bassewitz group concluded that “the arena does not have timely, complete and accurate current monthly or end-of-year financials and its audited financials do not contain managementʼs discussion and analysis.” * “Private (or) third-party operators” for the arena, which could be accomplished with either a private manager to operate all aspects of the facility, or contractors to oversee aspects such as bookings, concessions and ticket sales. We continue to believe the arena can be a vibrant source of sports and entertainment options for residents of our region. We agree with the reportʼs recommendation that it be placed under private management. And we agree with the teamʼs contention for years that it should get a share of game-night

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Brokering an arena deal | Turn talks over to an independent agen...

http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x519189838/Brokering-a...

concessions as part of its lease to play at the War Memorial. Unfortunately, we donʼt believe the parties involved can accomplish a plan that moves the arena in the right direction, protects the investment of the county taxpayers and also attempts to maintain the Chiefs as the arenaʼs main attraction. To meet the goals set forth in the Bassewitz report, the county must find an outsider – with no ties to the arena authority, current employees, the hockey team or its current management agency – to broker the best deal. The commissioners, with whom the ultimate responsibility lies, would still have to approve that plan. Unless cooler heads and the proper objectives would somehow prevail, we see no other way to get this done. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 4:10 PM

County, Chiefs in ‘productive’ talks » Local News » The Tribun...

http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519189878/County-Chiefs-i...

April 10, 2009

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County, Chiefs in ‘productive’ talks (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local/x519189878/County-Chiefsin-productive-talks)
By MIKE MASTOVICH and KATHY MELLOTT
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — Cambria County commissioners and representatives of the ECHLʼs Johnstown Chiefs hockey team expressed optimism following six hours of talks Thursday at the county courthouse. “It was productive, but thatʼs all we can say right now,” county Commissioner President P.J. Stevens said as he left the courthouse. The negotiations will continue early next week, Stevens said. “Weʼre going to respect the holy days,” he said. The commissioners and the Chiefs have been negotiating a potential lease, with a league deadline for a commitment to next season looming today. The parties also continued to address issues regarding the management of Cambria County War Memorial Arena. “Weʼre going to continue the discussions,” said Roustan United CEO Scott Branovan, president of the Chiefs. “Itʼs been a very productive day.” Roustan United, a Richland-based business that manages the Chiefs, previously had provided a Request for Proposal (RFP) to the county in accordance with recommendations
1 of 3 12-10-29 4:11 PM

County, Chiefs in ‘productive’ talks » Local News » The Tribun...

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by a $37,500 study assessing the operational performance of the War Memorial Arena and the Chiefs. The Bassewitz Group prepared the study, which was co-funded by the county and the Greater Johnstown Partnership. The study recommended privatization of the facilityʼs management. Bassewitzʼs report noted the Chiefs accounted for 72 percent of the events at the arena last year. The county broke off negotiations with Global Spectrum on March 30. Global Spectrum and Roustan had partnered to present the county with an RFP that would have had Global and Roustan operating the arena and the Chiefs together. At that time, the commissioners were concerned that Roustan had been switched to the manager of the arena on the proposal instead of Global. Also, the county believed it would be responsible for significant losses if the proposed business model failed to meet expectations. Chiefs majority owner Neil Smith and Branovan had been disappointed by the countyʼs apparent change of heart regarding privatization. In an e-mail to The Tribune-Democrat that the Chiefs eventually posted on their Web site, a frustrated Smith said his options included selling the team, moving the team or terminating membership in the ECHL. Smith could not immediately be reached for comment. A league-imposed deadline for the Chiefs to provide proof that the team had a lease in order to play next season added to the pressure to reach a deal. On March 25, ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna wrote a letter to Chiefs General Manager Bill Bredin stating that the league previously extended a Jan. 20 deadline for the Chiefsʼ lease, adding that the ECHL needed an answer regarding the lease by today or the team wouldnʼt be included in next seasonʼs schedule. When told that the Chiefs and county had met at length on Thursday and will resume negotiations on Monday, McKenna declined to confirm that the league deadline had once again been extended. “From my perspective it would be unfair to comment until I know the substance of the meetings, and I still have to talk to Neil Smith, who is working on the West Coast right now,” McKenna said Thursday evening. “We just need to know they have a lease. Who operates the facility is really of no concern to the league. The only person we take direction from in that regard is Neil as the owner of the team. Iʼll wait to hear from him as to what the situation is and weʼll make our determination from there. I donʼt expect to hear from him until (today).” The Chiefsʼ Bredin said Thursdayʼs talks were the most productive since the parties began meeting months ago.

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County, Chiefs in ‘productive’ talks » Local News » The Tribun...

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“We had lengthy discussions, we made progress, but we still have a lot of work to do,”  Bredin said. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 4:11 PM

ECHL extends Chiefs’ deadline » Local News » The Tribune ...

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April 10, 2009

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ECHL extends Chiefs’ deadline (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local/x519189952/ECHL-extends-Chiefsdeadline)
By MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The ECHLʼs Friday deadline for the Johnstown Chiefs to submit proof of a lease agreement with Cambria County War Memorial Arena passed without the local team being removed from the leagueʼs 2009-10 schedule. Neither ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna nor Chiefs General Manager Bill Bredin would say the April 10 deadline had been extended, though that much was obvious because the Chiefs and Cambria County Commissioners have scheduled a Monday meeting to continue lease negotiations. “My understanding is that they did meet for a considerable amount of time and apparently made progress,” McKenna said Friday afternoon. “They are going to continue the meetings on Monday. Based on that, weʼre hopeful a deal can be reached on Monday. The county back in December and January indicated to us that they were prepared to grant a lease for next year. Really, theyʼre at the table trying to hammer out the terms on that. Hopefully on Monday they can reach some kind of arrangement.” On March 25, McKenna sent Bredin a letter stating that if the Chiefs did not have a lease agreement by April 10, the Chiefs would be removed from the schedule so that the
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ECHL extends Chiefs’ deadline » Local News » The Tribune ...

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remaining teams could finalize their respective schedules. McKenna noted in the letter that the Chiefs originally were to verify their lease by Jan. 20 during the ECHL winter meetings. The league extended that deadline while Roustan United, the Richland-based business that is managing the hockey team, entered negotiations to manage the arena with hopes of eventually purchasing the Chiefs. Roustan and Global Spectrum had teamed to present the county a proposal, but the county commissioners broke off negotiations on March 30. Roustan United and the county commissioners agreed to resume talks this week. When asked about the ECHLʼs original Friday deadline, McKenna said, “If they had broken off discussions (the deadline would have been imposed), but thatʼs not the case. Nothing is going to happen this weekend. Weʼre just as anxious as everyone else to see where this goes on Monday.” Bredin reiterated that the county and the Chiefs had productive talks during a six-hour session Thursday at the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg. Both sides agreed to wait until after the holiday weekend to resume the discussions. “The ECHL office is aware of the ongoing talks with the county and we will continue to have talks on Monday,” Bredin said. “We made a lot of progress, but weʼve still got a long way to go.” The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 4:12 PM

Arena talks promising, commissioner says » Local News » The ...

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April 13, 2009

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Arena talks promising, commissioner says
(http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519190164/Arenatalks-promising-commissioner-says)
BY FRANK SOJAK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The Cambria County commissioners and Roustan United, manager of the Johnstown Chiefs, met again Monday to negotiate terms for the team to lease the Cambria County War Memorial Arena for the 2009-2010 hockey season. Commissioner Chairman P.J. Stevens said progress was made. “Itʼs going well,” Stevens said. “Hopefully, we will be able to resolve everything very shortly.” Talks will continue today, he said. Meanwhile, the chairman of the arenaʼs board of directors, Jack Steeves, said Monday that many people in the community are concerned about the arenaʼs future and its ability to survive should the Chiefs eventually decide to leave Johnstown. Despite rumors to the contrary, the arena is prospering and will continue to do so whether the Chiefs stay or leave, Steeves said. The board of directors and management of the arena want to make it clear that they support the Chiefs and hope the team can prosper, he said.

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12-10-29 4:13 PM

Arena talks promising, commissioner says » Local News » The ...

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The arena has generated a net profit of $160,000 in the fiscal year that ends in June and expects to finish the year well over $250,000 in the black, Steeves said. The Chiefs accounted for less than 42 percent of the $160,000 profit so far, he said. If the team would leave, the arena would lose the $53,000 lease the Chiefs pay for the season, Steeves said. The Chiefsʼ departure would open the arena to nearly 40 more days for other events, he added. The arena hosted Disney on Ice, which generated $50,000 in six days in February, he said. The show is booked again for winter, he said. But make no mistake, the arena and commissioners do not want to see the Chiefs leave, Steeves said. “Weʼll do anything we can to keep the Chiefs here, within reason,” said Steeves, who described himself as a die-hard hockey fan. “The Chiefs are good for the community.” Steeves said keeping the Chiefs in town will take more than just the arena and the county. There needs to be more support from the public and businesses, plus the team has to do a better job of attracting additional fans, he said.

The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 4:13 PM

Chairman: Arena future is bright » Editorials » The Tribune D...

http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x519190190/Chairman-...

April 14, 2009

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Chairman: Arena future is bright
(http://tribunedemocrat.com/editorials /x519190190/ChairmanArena-future-is-bright)
BY JACK STEEVES
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Todd Berkey

As Roustan United, current manager of the Johnstown Chiefs, and the Cambria County commissioners continue to work to negotiate a lease for the 2009-2010 season, the Cambria County War Memorial Authority Board of Directors understands that many in the community are concerned about the arenaʼs future and its ability to survive should the Chiefs eventually decide to leave the area. Despite rumors to the contrary, the War Memorial Arena is prospering and would continue to do so whether the Chiefs stay or go. The board and management of the War Memorial want to make it clear that they support the Chiefs and hope the team can prosper and will be part of the community for many years to come. It is in the arenaʼs best interest that any and all organizations that bring events to the War Memorial are successful. Unfortunately, attendance at Chiefs games has been in decline for

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12-10-29 4:14 PM

Chairman: Arena future is bright » Editorials » The Tribune D...

http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x519190190/Chairman-...

most of the past decade, and the revenue generated for the arena by the team has gradually fallen. This fact may be the source of rumors that the War Memorial would close if the Chiefs were to leave. This is not the slightest bit true. To date, the War Memorial has generated a net $160,000 profit in the fiscal year that ends this June, and expects to finish the year well over $250,000 in the black. The Chiefs account for less than 42 percent of that profit. In light of the fact that the teamʼs contract with the arena authority includes an annual “arena rebate” of $50,000, the departure of the Chiefs would result in a net loss of only $53,000 for the arena – an amount that would easily be earned many times over because the absence of the team would open almost 40 days per year for other events. For example, in February, the arena earned $50,000 in only six days when it hosted “Disney on Ice.” It is anticipated by the board that arena revenues would actually increase if the Chiefs were to leave – but again, it is not the boardʼs wish for the Chiefs to leave. Since 1994, the War Memorial authority has given the Chiefs organization $750,000 from the arenaʼs operating revenues – a fact of which few people are aware. Since the War Memorial hosts dozens of successful, revenue-producing events that regularly fill the arena to capacity, the suggestion that the War Memorial management team is somehow to blame for the Chiefsʼ declining revenues is patently absurd. If that were the case, attendance would be down for all events across the board, which it clearly is not. It is the sincere wish of the War Memorial board of directors and management that the Chiefs are able to improve their business model, attract more fans to the arena and enlist the support of more local sponsors. It is unclear why those who manage the hockey team could conclude that their success somehow depends on how the arena is operated, rather than on improving the teamʼs appeal to the community and growing their fan base. It is a matter of record that Roustan has lobbied the county commissioners to allow the company to take over private management of the arena. This is understandable in light of the substantial revenues the arena generates, and the management fee the company would be paid. However, such an arrangement would provide no substantial benefit to the community and could create problems that do not now exist. It is an industry standard that venue management companies are responsible only for booking events. The costs of building maintenance and upkeep would likely fall to county taxpayers. Those expenses are currently paid by the War Memorial authority. As a public entity, the War Memorial is subject to a yearly audit by Wessel & Co., which has

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Chairman: Arena future is bright » Editorials » The Tribune D...

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issued opinions indicating the finances to be in good order. A private company has no such obligation and that transparency would be lost. Roustan officials have made it clear that the arenaʼs current six-person management team would be replaced should they take over. Despite working under such stress and uncertainty, the arena management team has performed flawlessly throughout this difficult period and has put the arena hundreds of thousands of dollars in the black. Although Roustan has expertise in the management of ice rinks and other hockey-related businesses, it lacks any experience operating a multipurpose venue such as the War Memorial. The current arena management team has more than 100 years of combined experience. Finally, it is important to remember that the true purpose of the Cambria County War Memorial is to serve as a vibrant, living memorial to our communityʼs veterans. Profits from arena events ensure the economic future of the memorial areas of the facility. The countyʼs veteran organizations have had nothing but praise for the War Memorial board of directors and management team. Whether an outside entity could fully appreciate its responsibility to honor our veterans is unknown. The War Memorial has a bright and profitable future – a future that does not depend on any one act that brings events to the venue. The board and management of the War Memorial wish the Chiefs great success and look forward to working with them for many future seasons.

Jack Steeves is chairman of the Cambria County War Memorial Authority. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 4:14 PM

NEW – Chiefs, Cambria County reach tentative lease agreement...

http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519190382/NEW-Chiefs-C...

April 16, 2009

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NEW – Chiefs, Cambria County reach tentative lease agreement for War Memorial; could be finalized today (http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519190382
/NEW-Chiefs-Cambria-County-reach-tentative-leaseagreement-for-War-Memorial-could-be-finalized-today)
BY MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The Cambria County Commissioners and Roustan United have reached a tentative arena lease agreement that will be presented to the War Memorial Arena Authority Board of Directors at a 4 p.m. meeting today. Roustan United manages the Johnstown Chiefs ECHL team, which has played the past 21 seasons as the anchor tenant of the nearly 4,000-seat arena. The authority will vote on the proposal, possibly as early as today, according to Cambria County Commissioner President P.J. Stevens. “Weʼve come to a tentative agreement. To honor our commitment to the Authority weʼre taking it to them for a vote,” Stevens said. “There is no reason not to be optimistic.” Roustan United CEO-President Scott Branovan, who also is president of the Chiefs, said lease negotiations have been productive during the past week.

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12-10-29 4:18 PM

NEW – Chiefs, Cambria County reach tentative lease agreement...

http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519190382/NEW-Chiefs-C...

“I canʼt discuss the nature of what theyʼre going to propose but I can tell you that we have worked in good faith extensively (last) Thursday and this week with the county commissioners,” Branovan said. “Weʼre pleased with the interaction. We anticipate the proposal that they are going to bring in front of the War Memorial Authority will be received positively. “I think the proposal that would be brought forth is a solution for the Johnstown Chiefs to remain at the War Memorial.” Roustan United and Global Spectrum originally had teamed to present the county with a Request For Proposal (RFP) in accordance with a $37,500 study done by the Bassewitz Group. The study, co-funded by Cambria County and the Greater Johnstown Partnership, recommended privatization of operations of the War Memorial and stated that the Chiefs, who accounted for 72 percent of the arenaʼs events, should remain the primary tenant. On March 30, the county commissioners broke off talks with Roustan and Global. “When we rejected the notion of having Roustan operate the facility, we extended the invitation to negotiate a lease extension to keep the Chiefs in town,” Stevens said. “Everybody worked in that spirit to maintain the Chiefs presence in the community.” Under the original RFP, Roustan United indicated it would purchase the Chiefs if the RFP had been accepted. Branovan was asked if Roustan still is interested in buying the financially strapped team under the current lease proposal. “I canʼt comment on that,” Branovan said. “I can say that if it was approved, the Chiefs would immediately begin marketing the 2009-10 season aggressively. It is our intent to present ticket price rollbacks and attractive discounted packages to make going to Chiefs hockey more affordable for families and for the community to experience what professional hockey means to our quality of life.” The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-29 4:18 PM

NEW No vote yet on Chiefs agreement » Local News » The Tri...

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April 16, 2009

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NEW No vote yet on Chiefs agreement (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local/x519190408/NEW-No-vote-yeton-Chiefs-agreement)
BY MIKE MASTOVICH AND FRANK SOJAK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The Cambria County commissioners, Johnstown Chiefs and Roustan United, manager of the Chiefs, still have to smooth out some wrinkles in the ice at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Cambria County War Memorial Arena Authority, which manages the arena, discussed a tentative agreement reached earlier in the day between the commissioners, Roustan and the Chiefs during an executive session late Thursday afternoon. The authority did not bring the matter up for a vote. “From there, the process continues,” Commissioner Chairman P.J. Stevens said after the executive session. “We have to get back to the Chiefs and Roustan.” Stevens said he couldnʼt discuss what transpired in the executive session. “Progress is being made,” Stevens said about talks to keep the Chiefs in Johnstown. He said the commissioners will keep the public updated about the negotiations to lease the arena to the Chiefs. Jack Steeves, arena authority chairman, declined to comment on Thursdayʼs events.
1 of 2 12-10-29 4:20 PM

NEW No vote yet on Chiefs agreement » Local News » The Tri...

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Scott Branovan, Roustanʼs chief executive officer who also is president of the Chiefs, said earlier in the day that lease negotiations have been productive during the past week. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

2 of 2

12-10-29 4:20 PM

Chiefs talks drag » Local News » The Tribune Democrat, Johns...

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April 16, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 19 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 24 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 3 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

Chiefs talks drag (http://tribune-democrat.com/local
/x519190430/Chiefs-talks-drag)
BY MIKE MASTOVICH and FRANK SOJAK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The Cambria County commissioners, Johnstown Chiefs and Roustan United, manager of the Chiefs, still have to smooth out some wrinkles in the ice at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Cambria County War Memorial Arena Authority, which manages the arena, discussed a tentative agreement reached earlier in the day between the commissioners, Roustan and the Chiefs during an executive session late Thursday afternoon. The authority did not bring the matter up for a vote. “From there, the process continues,” Commissioner Chairman P.J. Stevens said after the
1 of 2 12-10-30 3:43 PM

Chiefs talks drag » Local News » The Tribune Democrat, Johns...

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executive session. “We have to get back to the Chiefs and Roustan.” Stevens said he couldnʼt discuss what transpired in the executive session. “Progress is being made,” Stevens said about talks to keep the Chiefs in Johnstown. He said the commissioners will keep the public updated about the negotiations to lease the arena to the Chiefs. Jack Steeves, arena authority chairman, declined to comment on Thursdayʼs events. Scott Branovan, Roustanʼs chief executive officer who also is president of the Chiefs, said earlier in the day that lease negotiations have been productive during the past week. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

2 of 2

12-10-30 3:43 PM

NEW – Chiefs home in Johnstown secure for coming season » ...

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April 20, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 31 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 36 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

NEW – Chiefs home in Johnstown secure for coming season (http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519190654
/NEW-Chiefs-home-in-Johnstown-secure-for-comingseason)
By Sandra K. Reabuck
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — The Johnstown Chiefs hockey team will remain in Johnstown for at least the 2009-2010 season with todayʼs decision by the Cambria County commissioners to extend the teamʼs lease for another year at the War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, The commissioners, as landlords of the county-owned facility, approved a one-year extension with Chiefs owner Roustan United, with the team to continue to pay rentals at current rates.

1 of 2

12-10-30 3:55 PM

NEW – Chiefs home in Johnstown secure for coming season » ...

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For the first time, the Chiefs will get a share of the concession profits under the memorandum of understanding. Scott Branovan, Roustan Unitedʼs president and chief executive officer, said todayʼs action is an important first step on the teamʼs economic viability in continuing to call Johnstown the Chiefs' home. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

2 of 2

12-10-30 3:55 PM

Chiefs staying put; arena manager to be hired » Local News » T...

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April 21, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 33 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 37 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

Chiefs staying put; arena manager to be hired (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local /x519190734/Chiefsstaying-put-arena-manager-to-be-hired)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The Cambria County War Memorial Arena will be the home of the Johnstown Chiefs during the 2009-10 ECHL  season. John Rucosky

EBENSBURG — After months of uncertainty over the future of the Chiefs hockey team in Johnstown, the teamʼs home in the Friendly City was secured for at least another year with a decision by the Cambria County commissioners Monday to extend the Chiefsʼ lease for use of the War Memorial Arena for the coming season.

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12-10-30 3:57 PM

Chiefs staying put; arena manager to be hired » Local News » T...

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The commissioners – as landlords of the county-owned facility – approved the extension with Roustan United, which manages the hockey team, after the War Memorial Arena Authority failed to act on the proposal after holding an executive session Friday afternoon. “Absolutely, this will keep the team in Johnstown for at least another year,” President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said. Because of deadlines with the ECHL, it was imperative for the county to take the action Monday, the commissioners said. “Time is of the essence. Their failure to act put us in this position,” Stevens said. Roustan United will immediately notify the ECHL of the leaseʼs approval, and itʼs likely the league will have team schedules out within days for the coming season so that the Chiefs and other teams can proceed with season-ticket sales, Scott Branovan, Roustanʼs president and chief executive officer, said. For the first time, the hockey team – which has been scrambling to expand its fan base, increase ticket sales and find investors – will get a portion of concession-stand profits. The county will pay the Chiefs 50 percent of the net income from concession sales only from Chiefs games and Chief-sponsored events. Any money the county receives from the concessions sales will be deposited into a restricted account for use for the arenaʼs operation, maintenance and capital costs. The most recent concession figures were not immediately available. The Bassewitz Group study completed in October reported that Chiefsʼ game concession revenues were $299,800 for 2007-08. That apparently is a gross figure before any costs were deducted. In addition, the county agreed that the $50,000 which has been paid by the authority in past seasons in installments will be paid in a one-time lump sum to help Roustan United promote the Chiefs and season-ticket sales. Branovan, who was at Mondayʼs meeting, said afterward that the commissionersʼ action is “an important first step” in building the teamʼs economic viability. For the Chiefs or any professional hockey team to remain in markets such as Johnstown, “itʼs critical that the team become an affordable family entertainment” along with box office and food-service improvements and marketing the team, he said. The commissioners again emphasized their commitment to carrying out the recommendation of a professional study done last year to privatize the management of the War Memorial Arena. The Bassewitz study recommended placing the arena in the hands of a private operator if the War Memorialʼs finances are to be stabilized and if the Chiefs are to remain as the primary tenant.

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12-10-30 3:57 PM

Chiefs staying put; arena manager to be hired » Local News » T...

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For the first time since discussions of privatization started months ago, the commissioners voted to give a 60-day notice terminating the authorityʼs management contract. A 60-day notice is required in the management contract. But the authorityʼs management could be extended until a professional manager or management company is hired, the commissioners said. Meanwhile, all of the arenaʼs employees remain on the War Memorialʼs payroll until there is a change in management, they said. The commissioners, by their actions Monday, said that they will seek to have the manager or company hired on or before Aug. 1. Rather than re-advertising for proposals, the commissioners said they will be arranging meetings with companies that had submitted them last year. However, the commissioners said that Global Spectrum of Philadelphia – which had at one point partnered with Roustan United – no longer is under consideration. Stevens also indicated that the county would first look at the two other companies with experience in operating facilities, apparently a reference to RG Sports and Entertainment of Cranston, R.I., and SMG Worldwide Entertainment of Philadelphia. RG Sports operates arenas in the U.S. and Canada and also owns the Victoria Salmon Kings, a hockey team in British Columbia. SMG Worldwide manages stadiums, arenas, convention centers and theaters worldwide, including Pittsburghʼs Mellon Arena. Two other companies – Spin Wilde Production of 1716 Forest Hills Drive, Windber, and Ilumina Business Associates of 136 Jaycee Drive, Richland Township, also submitted proposals. The commissioners said that even with a private operator overseeing operations, the authority could continue to have a role through its committees on veteransʼ matters, local events and other sports programs.

The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 3:57 PM

Check to Chiefs delayed » Local News » The Tribune Democrat...

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April 24, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 35 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 40 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

Check to Chiefs delayed (http://tribune-democrat.com
/local/x519190958/Check-to-Chiefs-delayed)
Cambria commissioners, controller at odds over payment to hockey team BY SANDRA K. REABUCY
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr. is questioning the legality of the countyʼs paying $50,000 directly to Roustan United, operators of the Johnstown Chiefs hockey team, calling it a “stimulus-bailout of a for-profit company.” Cernic said Thursday that he is refusing to sign the check for the payment that the commissioners authorized last week in extending the Chiefsʼ lease for the county-owned War Memorial Arena in Johnstown for one year. The payment is

1 of 3

12-10-30 3:59 PM

Check to Chiefs delayed » Local News » The Tribune Democrat...

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especially questionable this year, the controller said, because the countyʼs financial outlook for the year is “dim.” But President Commissioner P.J. Stevens says that the payment has been reviewed by the county solicitors and is legal. He said that one way or another, Cernic will sign the check even if the commissioners have to take him to court to force him to do it. The hockey team has been receiving the $50,000 payment for years for use in marketing, but the money came from the authority – as arena operators – and was paid in installments. Stevens said that the county had to approve the lease this year in order to keep the Chiefs in Johnstown when the authority refused a week ago to act immediately on the lease extention. Cernic suggested that there could be an option for the commissioners – that the $50,000 be paid again directly to the authority as part of its county subsidy, and that the authority in turn issue a check to the Chiefs. Stevens, however, said that there was no assurance – with the authorityʼs not acting on the lease – that the authority would pay the money to the team. He added that he hoped to discuss that issue and others with authority Chairman Jack Steeves, possibly as early as today. Scott Branovan, president and chief executive officer of Roustan United, which manages the hockey team, said that any delay in the $50,000 payment could adversely affect the Chiefsʼ ability to continue its marketing efforts. Branovan said the delay could negatively impact the teamʼs reducing of season-ticket prices and developing “exciting game-day promotions ... or creating opportunities for more families to enjoy professional hockey. “It could put the current agreed-upon status in jeopardy,” he said. Branovan was perplexed about why the issue was raised. “Itʼs the same $50,000 that has been part of the Chiefsʼ lease for as far back as 13 years from what I understand,” Branovan said. “I donʼt know much about Mr. Cernicʼs perspective, but why is this year's payment being classified or viewed any different than the other 13 years?” “Itʼs time for politics to stop and the work to begin (on keeping the Chiefs in Johnstown),” he said. The Chiefs future in Johns-town as well as the War Memorial Authorityʼs role in operating the facility have been hot issues for months, as the commissioners looked at privatizing operations for the arena. “This move by the commissioners is providing us with a platform to create opportunities for us to get more fans and more families and make it more affordable. Itʼs all good,” Branovan said. “Weʼre excited and everybody on the staff is working hard. (But) This is certainly a setback.”

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12-10-30 3:59 PM

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The controller said that heʼs not against hockey in Johns-town. But, Cernic said, “I believe the War Memorial Authority has been doing a good job of overseeing the arena operations.” Stevens suggested that the controllerʼs questioning of the $50,000 payment was a smokescreen. The commissioner said that the controller really is trying to advocate for the authorityʼs continuing as operator. As for the controllerʼs allegations that the countyʼs fiscal situation may be not be bright, Stevens disputed that. “I donʼt see any alarms or major concerns,” Stevens said. “We monitor the budget monthly, and at the end of March - the end of the first quarter – our expenditures were 21.92 percent, under the 25 percent mark. Our revenues are coming in nicely, and we expect a big influx at the end of the discount period for payment of county real estate taxes.” But Stevens also admitted that Laurel Crest, the countyʼs nursing home, was showing a firstquarter deficit of $500,000. He added that the nursing home still has three quarters in which to reverse that trend. The census – which totaled 242 Thursday – remains below the projected 274 daily average for this year, he said.

Sports writer Mike Mastovich contributed to this report. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 3:59 PM

On arena, county moving in right direction » Editorials » The T...

http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x519191004/On-arena-c...

April 24, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 36 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 41 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

On arena, county moving in right direction
(http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x519191004 /On-arena-county-moving-in-right-direction)
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

While weʼre excited about the prospect of the Chiefs hockey team remaining in town for at least another year, weʼre especially pleased about the second part of the Cambria County officialsʼ decision last week. Even as the commissioners were finalizing a lease to keep the Chiefs at the War Memorial Arena through next season, they were also giving the War Memorial Authority 60 daysʼ notice that the county will be terminating its agreement with the authority for control of the arena. Although keeping the hockey team in town is a bonus, the big issue has always been the

1 of 3

12-10-30 4:00 PM

On arena, county moving in right direction » Editorials » The T...

http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x519191004/On-arena-c...

future of the underused arena. The 2008 Bassewitz Study the commissioners have used as a basis for its negotiations with the Chiefs showed that private operation of the War Memorial is the way to go. We applaud President Commissioner P.J. Stevens and fellow commissioners Bill Harris and Milan Gjurich for having the courage to take their underperforming asset in a new direction, and for heeding the advice of their own study that private control is the best option. There needs to be a better marketing plan at the War Memorial, tighter accountability, and generally a more businesslike approach to running the arena. What the commissioners did not say is that Roustan United, the company managing the Chiefs, will also wind up running the arena. Roustan and Global Spectrum had been negotiating with the county to run the arena before the commissioners broke off talks a month ago. In fact, they essentially said Roustan is out of that picture, that the commissioners are looking at two other companies – RG Sports and Entertainment of Cranston, R.I., and SMG Worldwide Entertainment of Philadelphia, which operates Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. County Controller Ed Cernic Jr. threw a wrench into the works Thursday when he refused to release $50,000 to the Chiefs, per the contract the team had reached with the hockey organization. We doubt the controller has the authority to ignore a directive from the board, although we support his questioning of county expenses. In fact, the $50,000 has been paid to the Chiefs annually for years. The only difference this year was that it is to be paid in a lump sum rather than over several months, to allow the team to invest the money in marketing programs right away. We say get the money paid to the team so that the Chiefs have the best chance of surviving as a business. Then the county can get busy with the critical task of finding the right private company to run the War Memorial.

***

A year ago, we chastised the Chiefs for raising ticket prices even as the economy was faltering and people had less disposable income. Thatʼs why we are now saying “amen” to the hockey team for cutting ticket prices. Itʼs the smart move, especially since the team will get a share of the concession money next season.

2 of 3

12-10-30 4:00 PM

On arena, county moving in right direction » Editorials » The T...

http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x519191004/On-arena-c...

That will give the Chiefs additional revenue, something team leaders say they need. Good luck. We hope the team is in Johnstown for a long time to come. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

3 of 3

12-10-30 4:00 PM

Fate of Chiefs’ check up to authority » Local News » The Tribu...

http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x519191036/Fate-of-Chiefs-...

April 24, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 37 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 42 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

Fate of Chiefs’ check up to authority (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local/x519191036/Fate-of-Chiefs-checkup-to-authority)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — Whether Roustan United soon gets the $50,000 promised for marketing the Johnstown Chiefs now appears to be up to the Cambria County War Memorial Authority. Roustan United, operators of the hockey team, considers the payment crucial to marketing promotions, including ticket-price reductions, and the teamʼs future at the county-owned War Memorial Arena in Johnstown. The payment had been approved earlier this week by the county commissioners as they OKʼd a one-year extension of the Chiefsʼ lease for the arena. The commissioners said they

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12-10-30 4:01 PM

Fate of Chiefs’ check up to authority » Local News » The Tribu...

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had to step in and approve the lease when the authority failed to do so the previous week. But the payment was held up Thursday when county Controller Ed Cernic Jr. – the watchdog of county finances – questioned its legality. Cernic contended that county could not pay the money directly to Roustan, but, instead, had to route it through the authority as had been done in the past. He maintained that the money could not go directly to the for-profit company. On Friday, Cernic got the legal backing of his solicitor, attorney John Kuzmiak, on that point. So, the commissioners, wanting to get the money into Roustanʼs hands as quickly as possible and avoid a court battle with the controller, faxed a request to the authority to put the issue on Mondayʼs meeting agenda “to write the check.” President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said, “If they approve that, they have enough cash on hand to execute the check immediately, and weʼd reimburse them. “Time is of the essence.” But what the authority will do remains unclear. Authority Chairman Jack Steeves said only that the $50,000 check and other related issues will be discussed at the authorityʼs regular meeting at 4 p.m. Monday at the arena. He declined further comment. Some authority members, who feel the authority has been doing a good job in operating the arena, reportedly are disappointed that the county appears ready to bring in an outside company or manager to do the job as recommended by a professional study last year. This week the commissioners voted to give a 60-day termination notice to the authority that its management contract was ending. But until new management is in place – either on or before Aug. 1 – the authorityʼs employees continue on the job. If the authority doesnʼt act, the check could be held up for a month in the stand-off between the controller and the commissioners because of a 30-day period the controller has in deciding about signing off on expenditures. The commissioners again said that the authority still will continue to have a role in overseeing arena operations even if management is privatized.

The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

2 of 2

12-10-30 4:01 PM

Chiefs check is on thin ice » Local News » The Tribune Democra...

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April 27, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 38 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 43 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

Chiefs check is on thin ice (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local/x519191240/Chiefs-check-is-onthin-ice)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The standoff continues over the $50,000 payment to Roustan United, operators of the Johnstown Chiefs hockey team, for promotions and marketing of the team for the upcoming season. With three members absent, the Cambria County War Memorial Authority deadlocked 6-6 in a secret ballot Monday over issuing – as requested by the county commissioners – the $50,000 check to Roustan United. Jack Steeves, authority chairman, and at least three other members of the authority refused

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12-10-30 4:02 PM

Chiefs check is on thin ice » Local News » The Tribune Democra...

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to divulge their votes after the meeting. Martha Banda, a member and authority secretary, said, “As a board appointed by the commissioners, we should accept the commissionersʼ request.” Last Friday, the county commissioners had faxed a request to the authority to write the check after county Controller Ed Cernic Jr. questioned the legality of paying the $50,000 directly to a for-profit company. Cernic says that he has the verbal backing of his solicitor, attorney John Kuzmiak, but is awaiting a written legal opinion from him. Roustan United has said that the $50,000 payment – which the Chiefs have received for the last 13 years – is critical in carrying out the team marketing and sales efforts in order to increase attendance at home games and revenues for the upcoming seasons. In prior years, the payment was received in installments over a season, but the commissioners – who stepped in this year and approved a one-year extension of the Chiefsʼ lease of the War Memorial, approved a one-time, up-front payment. The commissioners said that they had approved the one-year extension – which includes for the first time some concessions revenues going to the Chiefs – because the authority had failed to act and time was of the essence in keeping the hockey team in Johnstown for the upcoming season. President Commissioner P.J. Stevens, reached by phone after the meeting, again maintained that the countyʼs negotiating the one-year extension and the $50,000 payment to Roustan is legal. He said that the payment “can happen. Very possibly weʼll have to go to court (to force the controller to issue the check). Itʼs up to Mr. Cernic.” Scott Branovan, Roustan United president and chief executive officer, contended that “politics” by some of those involved in the issue was coming into play. Although not naming anyone specifically, Branovan said, “It is time for politics and hidden agendas to stop, and the study recommendations that were outlined by the objective sports professionals from Bassewitz Group to begin. It is time for a professional management at the War Memorial that will implement best practices in box office technology, concessions, game day/event management, software, accounting and attracting non-hockey events. “Itʼs time for the event center management to work with the Chiefs to create exciting game-day promotions and combine discounted tickets, food and beverage promotions, giveaways, theme promotions that make it affordable for our community to enjoy professional hockey.” Branovan again noted that the Chiefs have rolled back ticket prices and created special prices for veterans, students and seniors. Bill Bredin, general manager, said, “Itʼs critical (to have the money). We have delayed

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12-10-30 4:02 PM

Chiefs check is on thin ice » Local News » The Tribune Democra...

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releasing season tickets, and weʼre weeks behind in sales of tickets and sponsorships. Any delay (in the payment) is critical.” The absent members were Jack Babich, Dean Gindlesperger and Charles Gunby. During the meeting, Steeves reported that he, along with General Manager Jim Vautar and several authority members, had met earlier in the day with Curt Davis, city manager, about concessions at what was described as a major show to be brought to the Point Stadium by Spin Wilde Productions in mid-June. Although a final agreement still is to be worked out, the discussions centered on both the city and the authority getting a still-to-be specified percentage of the concessions revenues, Steeves said. For both the authority – which holds the contract for concessions at the Point – and the city, the venture could produce some revenues, Steeves said. Davis later issued a statement saying that a tentative agreement had been reached, but is still subject to approval by City Council. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 4:02 PM

Question raised on legality of War Memorial authority’s vote » ...

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May 1, 2009

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Question raised on legality of War Memorial authority’s vote (http://tribune-democrat.com/local
/x519191514/Question-raised-on-legality-of-WarMemorial-authority-s-vote)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

A media law expert for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association in Harrisburg says Mondayʼs secret-ballot vote by the Cambria County War Memorial Authority failed to meet the public-vote requirements of the stateʼs Sunshine Law. The authority – despite a question raised by a Tribune-Democrat reporter – decided to hold a secret ballot on whether to approve a request from the county commissioners to issue a $50,000 check to Roustan United, manager of the Johnstown Chiefs hockey team.

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Question raised on legality of War Memorial authority’s vote » ...

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Attorney Melissa Melewsky, the PNA's media law counsel, said the authority is an agency or arm of county government and as such is covered by the Sunshine Law. Under the state law, an agency such as the War Memorial authority is required to follow the Sunshine Law the same as any public body and cast votes publicly, she said. A secret-ballot vote, even if itʼs done during a public meeting, is not considered a public vote, Melewsky said. But Gary Horner, the authorityʼs longtime solicitor, and his associate, lawyer Kurt Nilson, maintained that the authorityʼs secret ballot is legal under Pennsylvania laws. The authority deadlocked 6-6 on whether to issue the check. A day later, the commissioners said the check was being issued through the Cambria County Industrial Development Corp. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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June 3, 2009

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Arena group to visit (http://tribune-democrat.com/local
/x519193868/Arena-group-to-visit)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The Cambria County commissioners, following through on plans to hire a management company for the War Memorial Arena, have had preliminary discussions with a private company to handle that job. Representatives of SMG Worldwide Entertainment, based in West Conshohocken near Philadelphia, will visit the county-owned arena today. They will review operations and the physical plant in preparation for further talks with the county, Robert Cavalieri, SMGʼs senior vice president for business development, said Wednesday. The county War Memorial Authority continues to oversee day-to-day operations even through its management contract was terminated, effective later this month.
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A 60-day termination notice was issued April 17 at the same time the commissioners approved a one-year lease extension with Roustan United, which manages the ECHL Johnstown Chiefs hockey team, for use of the arena. The commissioners hope to have a management company under contract and ready to take over arena operations by August, President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said. Current arena employees will continue on the authorityʼs payroll until then and may secure jobs through the management company, he said. But the commissioners emphasized that even with a private operator handling the arena, the 15-member authority will not be disbanded. Under its bylaws, the authority is to provide administrative policy and fiscal oversight and ensure that the facility continues to serve as a memorial to veterans. Although other companies have been contacted about managing the facility, the commissioners appear to be focusing on SMG. “At this point, weʼre very impressed with SMG. Theyʼre doing their due diligence. (But) itʼs not a done deal,” Commissioner Bill Harris said. Cavalieri, in a telephone interview from his West Conshohocken office, said that the company manages large and small facilities. Even through the Johnstown arena is on the smaller side, “itʼs well positioned for us.” SMG manages several arenas in Pennsylvania, including Mellon in Pittsburgh and Wachovia in Wilkes-Barre, as well as others in Ohio and West Virginia, he said. “As a consequence, when weʼre talking to event producers and figuring out routes, there could be stops in Johns-town,” Cavalieri said. One member of the SMG staff, John Petrunak, is from Johnstown, Cavalieri said. Petrunak handles booking and events in the companyʼs sports and entertainment division, and he is familiar with the War Memorial. SMGʼs services include maintenance, booking and box office systems and computerized ticketing, Cavalieri said. “We think we can bring a quick modernization to whatʼs going on there. Johnstown deserves a vibrant facility,” he said. The county commissioners, in deciding to privatize operations, are following recommendations of an October study by The Bassewitz Group. The study concluded that privatization is necessary to stabilize the War Memorialʼs finances and keep the Chiefs as the arenaʼs primary tenant. Previously, the commissioners said that Global Spectrum of Philadelphia – which at one point partnered with Roustan United in a management proposal for the arena – was no longer under consideration.

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Another proposal was submitted by RG Sports and Entertainment of Cranston, R.I., along with proposals for limited services by SpinWilde Productions and Ilumina Business Associates, both local companies.

The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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Tax-sale properties listed » Local News » The Tribune Democrat...

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July 14, 2009

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Tax-sale properties listed (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local /x914501870/Tax-saleproperties-listed)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

John Rucosky

Todd Berkey

EBENSBURG — Millions of dollars are due in delinquent taxes to Cambria County, local municipalities and school boards, the head of the county Tax Claim Bureau said Monday.

Todd Berkey

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Tax-sale properties listed » Local News » The Tribune Democrat...

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The countyʼs annual list of delinquent tax properties has 1,300 parcels again this year, Sam Runzo, director of the Tax Claim Bureau said. The bureau is responsible for collecting unpaid taxes. The list is published in the legal advertisements of todayʼs Tribune-Democrat. Although the properties are slated to go on the auction block Sept. 14, only about 300 properties actually will end up in the sale. Property owners having until that date to either pay off the taxes due or get onto a payment plan, Runzo said. As of Friday, the bureau had collected approximately $1.5 million as a result of notices sent out earlier advising of the upcoming advertisement, he said. “We expect to collect an additional $2 million before the sale,” Runzo said. He warned prospective buyers to check out properties before bidding on them at the Sept. 14 sale. “Itʼs a ʻbuyer bewareʼ sale because we do not give clear deeds. The buyer becomes responsible for any liens, judgments or mortgages on the property, so we advise interested buyers to check on whether anything is outstanding against the property,” Runzo said. The amounts listed as delinquent include – as required by law – the taxes due for 2009, Runzo said. Delinquent taxes from 2007 are the ones triggering the sale, although some could date earlier if the properties had been held off the auction block for payment plans. However, those properties are placed back on the list when the owners do not complete the payment, he explained. The top amount listed on this yearʼs list is $250,577 on the Planet Ice property in Richland Township owned by Roustan Johnstown. Runzo said that Roustan had been on a payment plan for 2006 taxes, and had paid $32,000 of the $72,000 due. In addition, the company owes approximately $73,800 for 2007; $71,600 for 2008 and $71,493 for 2009. The older amounts are higher because of interest fees being charged, he said. Scott Branovan, a company spokesman, declined to comment. The Planet Ice property has been listed through Gary Green of Century 21 All Services of Richland Township, apparently for sale. Second on the delinquent list is Speciality Lifecare Realty, the owner of the former White Star at Napleon Place, a personal care home in Johnstown. A total of $143,107 is owed. The facility was shut by the state in April after a series of deficiencies were found there dating back to 2007, the state Department of Welfare said.

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Coming in third with $136,533 due is the former Miners Hospital property in Northern Cambria Borough, owned by the Northern Cambria Community Development Corp. The deteriorating hospital had been demolished by the agency with state grants a few years ago, but efforts by Norcam to build housing for the elderly have been stymied since the Northern Cambria school board has refused since 2007 to forgive the back school taxes. “We canʼt afford to pay the back taxes and canʼt use state grants to do that. Itʼs a shame because the community needs housing for the elderly,” Matthew Barczak, project director, said.

Parcels with the most owed

Here is a list of the 10 properties with the highest amount of delinquent taxes due to Cambria County:

• Roustan Johnstown, a limited liability corporation (LLC), on Planet Ice property, 195 Jari Drive, Richland Township, $250,577. • Speciality Lifecare Realty Corp., former White Star personal care home, 429 Napoleon St., Johnstownʼs 5th Ward, $143,107. • Northern Cambria Community Development Corp., former Miners Hospital property on Crawford Avenue in Northern Cambria Borough, $136,533. • Dennis Kaszycki, former Highway Hardware Store property, 2025 Bedford St., Stonycreek Township, $50,502. • Gerbarco LLC, townhouses, 2600 block of Bedford Street, Geistown Borough, $41,443. • Family Furniture, Inc., commercial property, 1336 N. Center St., Cambria Township, $39,807. • Commonwealth Mineral Development, commercial building, 351 Budfield St., Richland Township, $36,645. • Burley Rink Supply, former Skone Advance property, Adams Street, Johnstown 9th Ward, $29,959. • Lori Tunstall, house in 100 block of Chandler Avenue that was held out of prior sales

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because in bankruptcy for several years, Johnstown, 19th Ward, $34,787. • Gerbarco, apartment building, 414 Southmont Blvd., Southmont Borough, $26,346.

Note: Amounts being advertised as delinquent include, as required by state law, taxes due for 2009. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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Chiefs shuffle managers » Local News » The Tribune Democrat,...

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August 6, 2009

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Chiefs shuffle managers (http://tribune-democrat.com
/local/x1896298526/Chiefs-shuffle-managers)
By MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Johnstown Chiefs owner Neil Smith and minority owner Ned Nakles will assume control of the ECHL team after parting ways with Arena United Inc., the group that managed the team last season. “There is no negativity here about the past group,” said Smith, who was in Johnstown Thursday. “It was really me saying, ʻIf the team is not going to get sold, Iʼm going to run it myself.ʼ Itʼs my team. Iʼm running it.” Smith has been the majority owner of the Chiefs since 2002, though in recent seasons he had remained in the background while concentrating on his work as a television hockey analyst.
1 of 3 12-10-30 4:08 PM

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Arena United, known as Roustan United Arena Solutions when the deal to manage the Chiefsʼ business operations was reached in July 2008, distributed an e-mail news release Thursday afternoon. “Effective today, Arena United Inc. will no longer be managing the Johnstown Chiefs for Neil Smith, the owner of the team,” the release stated. “We have enjoyed our association with the team the past year and are proud of the progress made on many fronts to better the economic model for the Chiefs organization and current owner Neil Smith, the downtown business community and the citizens of Cambria County.” A representative of Arena United Inc. said Thursday that owner-President Scott Branovan had no comment other than the two-paragraph news release. Branovan was a proponent of last yearʼs Bassewitz Group study that recommended privatization of Cambria County War Memorial Arena. His group had teamed with Global Spectrum to present the county with a request for proposal. Global had hoped to manage the arena with Roustan United Arena Solutions (Arena United) eventually purchasing the Chiefs from Smith. That scenario never materialized. The Cambria County War Memorial Authority on July 28 approved a five-year contract to pay SMG Worldwide of Philadelphia to manage the arena. “We are pleased that the Cambria County commissioners elected to follow our recommendation to engage the sports professionals from Bassewitz Group to complete an objective study, which led to the recent hiring of a professional arena management company, SMG,” the Arena United release stated. “We wish (General Manager) Bill Bredin and the Chiefs the best of luck in the future and are hopeful that the new professional management company SMG will help the current team owner Neil Smith achieve economic sustainability and remain in Johnstown for many years to come.” Smith said he stepped in partly to quell speculation about the team, which recently lost head coach Ian Herbers to a promotion to a higher league. “I felt it was time I got back involved again,” Smith said. “Iʼve had this for many years and Iʼve always been consumed by other things in hockey. There is some skepticism around this team. Is it going to survive? Will it stay here? Is it going to leave? The skepticism and negativity are because a lot of changes continue. I thought it would be best to stabilize things and get back involved. “Maybe I can put people more at ease,” he added. “Itʼs tough for fans. They see Ian Herbers leave. They hear other things. They wonder if the team is going to be good or is there going to be a team. I figured I would come back into town, get involved and roll up my sleeves and try to help out.”

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Among Smithʼs most immediate priorities will be to put finances in order. “People need to know itʼs going to get stable. Bills are going to be paid,” said Smith, who acknowledged that the team must work to make many accounts current. “Thatʼs something that doesnʼt sit well with me. When I had direct management we kept current with people. It bothers me if the local people arenʼt kept current or as close to current as you can be within reason. That really bothers me. Thatʼs no indictment of anyone from the past. Thatʼs just not the way I like to operate. I do want to address any types of areas that weʼre behind in.” The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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Cambria controller resurrects debate over payment to Chiefs » ...

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August 8, 2009

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Cambria controller resurrects debate over payment to Chiefs

Cernic TribuneDemocrat File Photo

(http://tribunedemocrat.com/local /x1896298624/Cambriacontroller-resurrects-debate-over-payment-to-Chiefs)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr. said Friday that he will look into whether $50,000 in county funds intended to promote the Johnstown Chiefs hockey team ended up being used for that purpose.

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Cambria controller resurrects debate over payment to Chiefs » ...

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But President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said the money did go for the intended use of marketing the hockey team and associated personnel costs. “The intent was to pay the money up front. The money went to the Chiefs, not Roustan (Roustan United, which then managed the Chiefs),” Stevens said. “The goal was to keep the Chiefs in Johnstown. Roustan did not own the Chiefs. Roustan was the legal representative of the owners.” Cernic said he has received questions from citizens concerned about the issue after Arena Solutions, formerly know as Roustan United, was ousted as the Chiefsʼ business manager by team owners Neil Smith and Ned Nakles this week. The $50,000 was part of a deal brokered by the county commissioners with Roustan that extended the Chiefsʼ lease on the county-owned War Memorial Arena for one year. The commissioners agreed to pay the $50,000 – long a part of the annual lease – in a one-time, up-front payment, rather than in periodic payments as had been done by the War Memorial Authority in the past. The money was routed through the Cambria County Industrial Development Corp. after Cernic questioned whether county tax dollars could go to a “for-profit” company and after the authority refused to cut the check. Cernic said he continues to believe the payment is improper and perhaps illegal, although the county solicitors have said it is legal. Cernic said he wants to be sure the money “didnʼt go into the pockets of some executives” or was used for unpaid personnel costs dating back before May 1, when the payment was made. “I want to determine whether it was spent properly, and if it was not, to seek reimbursement,” Cernic said. He said he hadnʼt questioned the prior payments by the War Memorial Authority because “the authority gave the money to the Chiefs (or previous teams) as a business investment to keep the Chiefs there. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 4:10 PM

Hoping arena can rebound | New management, GM talking the t...

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August 11, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 47 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 52 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
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Hoping arena can rebound | New management, GM talking the talk (http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials
/x1896298852/Hoping-arena-can-reboundNew-management-GM-talking-the-talk)
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

In a whirlwind two-week period, we saw the hiring of a new company to manage the War Memorial Arena, the ousting of the company that had been running the arenaʼs top tenant, and the hiring of a new general manager for the underutilized Johnstown facility. Whew! SMG Worldwide was named the management company for the War Memorial on July 28, and within days said it would be hiring a new general manager for the facility. That promise was fulfilled Monday, when Berks County native Tim Landis was handed the reins of the
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Hoping arena can rebound | New management, GM talking the t...

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arena. SMG officially takes over operation of the War Memorial and also the North Central Recreation Center near Ebensburg on Saturday. We welcome Landis to our region. We expect he will need to use all the experience he gained as director of events operations for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts in turning around the War Memorial. Landis has also had management positions at the Wachovia Complex in Philadelphia and the Sovereign Center in Reading. He will be charged with implementing SMGʼs more-modern ticketing and accounting systems. The arena will be looking to rebound from a police probe of business dealings there that landed former GM Jim Vautar on paid suspension. That investigation is ongoing. “Iʼm delighted to be with SMG and the Cambria County War Memorial,” Landis said. “I got into the business because of my love for ice and ice hockey.” Whether a “love for ice and ice hockey” means brighter days ahead for the War Memorialʼs primary tenant remains to be seen. But owners Neil Smith and Ned Nakles are taking their Johnstown Chiefs hockey team in a new direction after terminating their relationship with Arena United Inc., which ran the team for the past year. Arena United was formerly known as Roustan United Arena Solutions, and is a subsidiary of Roustan United. Ironically, Roustan at one time was a suitor to run the War Memorial for the county. Smith said he will be having a closer involvement in the business dealings with the Chiefs going forward, which should be good news to local companies and team employees – many of whom have not been getting paid lately for their services or dealings with the team. In an exclusive interview with The Tribune-Democrat, Smith said he will work to get the Chiefsʼ finances out of the red. “People need to know itʼs going to get stable. Bills are going to be paid,” Smith said. “Thatʼs something that doesnʼt sit well with me. When I had direct management, we kept current with people. It bothers me if the local people arenʼt kept current or as close to current as you can be within reason. That really bothers me. Thatʼs no indictment of anyone from the past. Thatʼs just not the way I like to operate. I do want to address any types of areas that weʼre behind in.” And speaking of finances, Cambria Controller Ed Cernic Jr. continues to question a recent $50,000 payment from the county to the Chiefs. The payment is made annually to the team through its lease agreement with the county. This year, the money was paid in a lump sum rather than periodically throughout the season.

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Hoping arena can rebound | New management, GM talking the t...

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“I want to determine whether it was spent properly,” Cernic said, “and if it was not, to seek reimbursement.” We applaud his diligence. As controller, he is charged with making sure our tax dollars are being spent wisely and appropriately. And we appreciate Smithʼs willingness to come to Johns-town and get directly involved in the workings of his hockey team. “Iʼve had (the Chiefs) for many years and Iʼve always been consumed by other things in hockey,” Smith said. “There is some skepticism around this team. Is it going to survive? Will it stay here? Is it going to leave? The skepticism and negativity are because a lot of changes continue. I thought it would be best to stabilize things and get back involved.” How will all of this activity eventually play out? Your guess is as good as ours. But hereʼs what weʼre hoping the future holds: * The War Memorial investigation plays out in a just manner, and it will be the last time any such action is necessary there. * SMG and Landis bring a variety of entertainment activities to the War Memorial, and turn it into a money-maker for their company and the county. * Smith and Nakles get the Chiefsʼ finances in order, sell a sufficient number of season tickets, and reassure local businesses that the team is worthy of their sponsorship dollars. * Residents of the region, and especially taxpayers of Cambria County, have an arena they want to visit and a hockey team they want to see play. We donʼt need, “And they all lived happily ever after.” But all involved with the War Memorial and the Chiefs can do better going forward. That is certainly a reasonable expectation. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 4:11 PM

Planet Ice property taken out of tax sale » Business » The Tribu...

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September 12, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 49 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 53 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

Planet Ice property taken out of tax sale
(http://tribune-democrat.com/business/x1081136922 /Planet-Ice-property-taken-out-of-tax-sale)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — The Planet Ice property in Richland Township – slated to be offered for sale at Cambria Countyʼs delinquent tax sale Monday – was taken off the auction block Friday because of its pending sale by a private buyer. Judge Timothy Creany signed an order putting a “stay” – or hold – on the sale after the owner, Roustan Johnstown, petitioned the court to remove it from the tax sale. The stay will remain in effect pending the private sale. Johnstown attorney Kevin Rozich, representing Roustan, divulged neither the name of the

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12-10-30 4:13 PM

Planet Ice property taken out of tax sale » Business » The Tribu...

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buyer nor the sale price. Rozich said that proceeds of the sale will enable the owner to pay the delinquent taxes. The sale is scheduled to be completed on or before Oct. 30, the attorney said. A Web site operated by the Cambria Somerset Association of Realtors lists the Planet Ice property for $2.99 million. The property is 7.5 acres and the two-story building is 90,020 square feet. It was constructed in 1997. The Web site listing describes the property as a multiuse facility that includes a manufacturing and storage area, ice rink and entertainment complex, and office suites. The listing agent is Gary Green of Century 21 All Service Inc. at 212 Bloomfield St. in Richland Township. Planet Ice topped the list of delinquent tax properties that were advertised by the county Tax Claim Bureau in July for the upcoming sale. The bureau said that a total of $250,577 was due on the property at 195 Jari Drive. The bureau said that the taxes due included $71,493 for 2009 and other amounts dating back to 2006. Roustan Johnstown had arranged a payment plan for 2006 taxes, but the company became delinquent on its payments. The tax sale will begin at 10 a.m. Monday in Courtroom No. 1 at the county courthouse. Several hundred properties from the 1,300 listed in July for the delinquent sale remain on the auction block. Owners have until the time of the sale to either pay the back taxes or get onto a payment plan. Typically few properties are sold at the tax sale because itʼs a “buyer beware” sale. New owners assume responsibility for any liens, judgments or mortgages on the property. Also on Friday, another well-known property was removed from the sale list in an order signed by the judge. It is the former White Star personal care home, owned by Speciality Lifecare Realty Corp., at 429 Napoleon St. in Johnstown. Johnstown lawyer David Novak said that the property is scheduled for a sheriffʼs sale in a mortgage foreclosure Dec. 11. The taxes will be paid as part of the sheriffʼs sale, Novak said. Remaining in Mondayʼs delinquent tax sale is the former Miners Hospital property on Crawford Avenue in Northern Cambria Borough. It is owned by Northern Cambria Community Development Corp. Speciality Lifecare came in second in the delinquent sale list with $143,107 owed, while the Minerʼs property had been listed at third with $136,533 owed. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907
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Cernic: Nothing illegal about Chiefs check » Local News » The ...

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September 19, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 49 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 54 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
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Cernic: Nothing illegal about Chiefs check
(http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x20299742/CernicNothing-illegal-about-Chiefs-check)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr. said the $50,000 paid by the county to promote and keep the Johnstown Chiefs hockey team in the War Memorial Arena is legal. Cernic had questioned the legality of the payment to a “for-profit” company because he first believed it went to Arena Solutions, formerly known as Roustan United Arena Solutions, then the teamʼs manager. The money was part of a deal the county commissioners brokered with Roustan that

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12-10-30 4:14 PM

Cernic: Nothing illegal about Chiefs check » Local News » The ...

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extended the Chiefsʼ lease on the county-owned War Memorial Arena for the 2009-2010 season. The commissioners agreed to pay the $50,000 in one payment, rather than in periodic payments as had been done in past years by the War Memorial Authority. The check was routed through Cambria County Industrial Development Corp. in August after Cernic questioned the payment and the arena authority refused to cut the check. The review by the controllerʼs office determined that money went to Johnstown Chiefs LLC, a limited liability corporation, as owner of the team. Cernic said that the money was used to pay past-due bills for fiscal 2008-2009, even though the announced intention was to promote ticket sales to keep the team in Johnstown. A review by Emily Krug, an auditor and accountant in the controllerʼs office, showed that $33,000 went to pay wages and salaries of administrative staff and some players. The balance of $17,000 was used for local lodging costs for some players in Johnstown, damage to playersʼ housing, health insurance costs and miscellaneous items. “All of these were past due, most by more than 60 days,” Cernic said. Although the money didnʼt go for promotions and ticket sales, he said, “If not paid, then the Chiefs would not be here to promote. The $50,000 the county supplied bought some time and put the Chiefs in a somewhat stable position.” Cernicʼs conclusion: “We found nothing illegal or deceptive (in) how the money was spent or transferred.” However, he said that he continues to have “personal reservations of paying a for-profit company.” Cernicʼs findings came as no surprise to the commissioners, who repeatedly said the payment was proper and legal. “Itʼs nothing more than what we expected. The bottom line is that the money went to the Chiefs. The money was used by the Chiefs, and it was intended to keep the Chiefs in place in 2009-2010,” President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said. Cernic commended Chiefs General Manager Bill Bredin for his cooperation in the controllerʼs review.

The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 4:14 PM

Cambria watchdog doing its job | Controller office’s probe wel...

http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x546427000/Cambria-wa...

September 24, 2009

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Cambria watchdog doing its job | Controller office’s probe welcomed (http://tribune-democrat.com
/editorials/x546427000/Cambria-watchdog-doing-its-jobController-office-s-probe-welcomed)
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

The Sept. 19 headline read, “Cernic: Nothing illegal about Chiefs check.” Weʼd like to believe that there was also nothing political in Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr.ʼs probe into the countyʼs paying $50,000 to promote and keep Johnstownʼs hockey team in the War Memorial Arena. Some would disagree. Through the years, there have been tiffs over finances between the controllerʼs and
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Cambria watchdog doing its job | Controller office’s probe wel...

http://tribune-democrat.com/editorials/x546427000/Cambria-wa...

commission-ersʼ offices, including disagreement over budget projections. We see the disagreements as checks and balances, something that as taxpayers we should all welcome. Cernic had questioned the legality of the payment to a “for-profit” company because he first believed it went to Arena Solutions, formerly known as Roustan United Arena Solutions, then the teamʼs manager. According to a story by courthouse reporter Sandra Reabuck, the money was part of a deal the county commissioners brokered with Roustan that extended the Chiefsʼ lease on the county-owned arena for the 2009-10 season. The commissioners agreed to pay the $50,000 in one payment, rather than in periodic payments as had been done in past years by the War Memorial Authority. In some legal finagling, the check was routed through Cambria County Industrial Development Corp. in August after Cernic questioned the payment and the arena authority refused to cut the check. Cernic threw up a red flag, questioned the process and began his investigation. Last week, he announced that a review by his office determined that money went to Johnstown Chiefs LLC, a limited liability corporation, as owner of the team. The money, he said, was used to pay past-due bills for fiscal 2008-09, even though the announced intention was to promote ticket sales to keep the team in Johnstown. Cernic concluded that his office was satisfied that nothing illegal or deceptive had been done. He commended Chiefs General Manager Bill Bredin for his cooperation in the controllerʼs review. We commend the controllerʼs office for doing what we see as its mission. This is the way good government should work.

The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 4:15 PM

Troubles heat up for ice rink property » Local News » The Tribu...

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November 12, 2009

Breaking News Road closings updated - 51 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 56 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Hours Ago

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Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

Troubles heat up for ice rink property (http://tribunedemocrat.com/local/x546430929/Troubles-heat-upfor-ice-rink-property)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — The 7.5-acre Planet Ice property in Richland Township, on which delinquent property taxes remain unpaid, now faces a mortgage foreclosure by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. PIDA is alleges that the owner – 195 Jari Drive Johnstown, formerly known as Roustan Johnstown – owes $616,474 in principal and interest on a $1 million loan dating back to 2000. The mortgage foreclosure was filed Nov. 5 at the Cambria County Courthouse.

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12-10-30 4:15 PM

Troubles heat up for ice rink property » Local News » The Tribu...

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Company officials did not return a message left Thursday at Planet Ice. The company has not made a payment since Sept. 1, 2007, PIDA alleges in the civil complaint. Listed along with the company as a defendant is Johnstown Industrial Development Corp., which acted as a conduit for the loan. PIDA has not yet filed what is known as a writ of execution for the property to be sold at a sheriffʼs sale. The earliest the property could be in such a sale would be March, a clerk said. Because of unpaid taxes, the property had been listed for sale at the countyʼs annual tax sale in September, but it was taken off the auction block in a stay signed by Judge Timothy Creany. The Cambria County Tax Claim Bureau said the $250,577 listed on the ice rink property was the highest of any property in its legal advertisement for the tax sale. Creany signed the stay after the owner said the ice rink property was to be sold to a private buyer by Oct. 30. But Sam Runzo, director of the tax claim bureau, said there has been no sale and the delinquent taxes still have not been paid. The delinquent amount through 2008 is $181,391, and an additional $69,188 is owed in 2009 taxes, Runzo said. The 2009 taxes, by law, have to be included in the amount advertised, he explained. Another $3,460 in interest has been tacked on since the advertisement ran in July, Runzo said. If the taxes remain unpaid, the property will be listed in next yearʼs tax sale, he said. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 4:15 PM

Chiefs plan to move franchise to South Carolina » Local News ...

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February 15, 2010

Breaking News Road closings updated - 21 Minutes Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 25 Minutes Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 3 Hours Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

Chiefs plan to move franchise to South Carolina
(http://tribunedemocrat.com/local /x1413002449/Chiefsplan-to-move-franchiseto-South-Carolina)
BY MIKE MASTOVICH
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

Empty seats abound at Cambria County War Memorial Arena on Sunday night during the Chiefs game with the Cyclones. The team announced after the game that it plans to move to Greenville,  S.C., before next season. Todd Berkey

JOHNSTOWN — The Johnstown Chiefs franchise will move to Greenville, S.C., after the current ECHL season concludes, pending approval by a Greenville arena authority and then
1 of 3 12-10-30 4:30 PM

Chiefs plan to move franchise to South Carolina » Local News ...

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the league, owner Neil Smith confirmed before Sundayʼs game at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. The Chiefs distributed an official news release after the game against the Cincinnati Cyclones. “It was a combination of things,” Smith said, noting that his attempts to find a local owner to buy the team had been unsuccessful. “With the economy and the attendance going down and the cost going up, and the other thing that people might not know is our lease is up, and this is not against SMG, but early indications are the cost of the lease is going up. Itʼs not going down. We have to make a decision. What do we do? Really, we were left with no choice.” Smith has been primary owner of the Chiefs since 2002, though he said he had openly invited local businessmen to either purchase the team from him or invest in the franchise in order to solidify its foundation in Johnstown during the past five years. The Chiefs are the only original member of the ECHL remaining in the same city since the league formed with five teams in 1988-89. Johnstown has fielded an ECHL team for 22 seasons. The Greenville arena board will hold a vote on today to approve a lease agreement with Smith and investor Steve Posner that would bring an ECHL team to the state-of-the-art Bi-Lo Center for the first time since 2006. The Greenville Grrrowl competed in the ECHL from 1998-99 through 2005-06, winning a Kelly Cup in 2002 and ranking at or near the top of the attendance category in its first four seasons before falling on tough financial times. Should the Greenville board approve, as expected, then the ECHL Board of Governors would probably hold a teleconference call later this week to vote on approving the transfer of membership from Johnstown to Greenville. Smith said the only chance for the Chiefs to remain in Johnstown would be “if someone reads this article and decides to buy the team” at the 24th hour. That would be equivalent to a minor miracle. “But realistically, they would have had to have been hiding under a rock for many years,” Smith said, referring to his repeated attempts to generate local interest. “Itʼs sad. Iʼm not happy about it. Nobody is happy about it. Itʼs not something that you want to have happen. Steve and I, this summer, our intention was to go at least through 2010-11. But with attendance being so off this year and the prospect of having to sign a lease which wouldnʼt go down, and then this thing (Greenville proposal) comes up at the same time.” Through 24 home dates the Chiefsʼ average attendance was 1,975. The Chiefs had a perfect storm of hurdles hit the franchise during the offseason. Smith and former team manager Roustan United had a much-publicized dispute over operation of the team and finances. When that situation finally was resolved, Smith became a hands-on owner after spending about five years overseeing the team from a distance.

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12-10-30 4:30 PM

Chiefs plan to move franchise to South Carolina » Local News ...

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In August, popular and successful coach Ian Herbers landed an AHL assistant coaching job, leaving the team without a head coach. The Chiefs eventually hired Jeff Flanagan after several others on their list turned down offers. Flanaganʼs team stumbled to a 9-19-4-3 mark and he was fired last month. Smith stepped in as interim head coach and the team has shown improvement on the ice. Another factor for the rough start was the loss of two solid affiliates, the NHLʼs Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets due to financial reasons. Smith had been a staunch believer in keeping the Chiefs in Johnstown because of the teamʼs long history and the cityʼs role in the motion picture “Slap Shot” filmed here in 1976. He even once played here as a minor leaguer with the Hampton Aces against the Johnstown Red Wings in 1979-80. Despite annual losses Smith and his group, which includes 10 percent minority owner Ned Nakles Jr. – another major Johnstown hockey benefactor – somehow managed to keep the team in town despite the Chiefs playing in the leagueʼs smallest market and oldest, smallest arena. “Our losses, to say six figures is deceiving,” Smith said. “It was in the hundreds of thousands. Iʼve been committed to keeping the team here since the day I got here. Iʼve always kept my word. Financially, it became impossible. I donʼt know if people know how close we came to folding last summer. We went through that tough time, but we were able to save it for one more year. It was a different situation, but we were able to rescue it for one more year.” Smith needed a cash injection from New York City investor Posner during the offseason to stabilize the situation. Sources said Posner invested as much as $300,000. Losing the Chiefs would take away 36 guaranteed regular-season dates from the War Memorial as well as potential playoff dates. Area hotels typically benefit from out of town teams and patrons, and some area eateries have had larger crowds on Chiefs game nights over the years. War Memorial General Manager Tim Landis said the Chiefs and SMG, which manages the arena, had exchanged lease proposals in recent weeks and potential dates for home games had been submitted. “We canʼt speculate on rumors,” Landis said prior to the official news release. “SMG is in negotiations with the Chiefs, and we have presented an offer. Weʼre moving forward. Weʼre negotiating in good faith with the Chiefs on a new lease deal.” The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 4:30 PM

Hockey team owners sue former managers » Local News » The ...

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February 15, 2010

Breaking News Road closings updated - 1 Hours Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 1 Hours Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 3 Minutes Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

Hockey team owners sue former managers
(http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x445445923/Hockeyteam-owners-sue-former-managers)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

EBENSBURG — The Johnstown Chiefsʼ corporate owner is suing the hockey teamʼs former management company in Cambria County Court for allegedly failing to pay operating bills totaling nearly $300,000. The lawsuit was filed Feb. 8, just days before primary owner Neil Smith confirmed Sunday that the Chiefs franchise will move to Greenville, S.C., after the current ECHL season ends. The suit was filed by Chiefs Professional Hockey, a limited liability company doing business as the Johnstown Chiefs.

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12-10-30 4:31 PM

Hockey team owners sue former managers » Local News » The ...

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The team has been on shaky financial footing for several years, and Smith was unsuccessful in getting local businessmen to either purchase the team or invest in the franchise. Smith needed a cash infusion from New York City investor Steve Posner during the last offseason to stabilize the situation. The defendants named in the lawsuit are Roustan United Inc., and related companies, Arena United, Roustan Planet Ice and Roustan Ice along with company executives, W. Graeme Roustan and Scott Branovan. Roustan referred questions to Johnstown attorney Kevin Rozich, who did not return a call from The Tribune-Democrat. Branovan also could not be reached for comment. Johnstown attorney Dennis Stofko, who represents the Chiefs in the lawsuit, alleged that Roustan as team manager was obligated to pay “all costs and expenses and net losses, incurred in the day-to-day management, control and operation of the Johnstown Chiefs” under its management contract. The contract ran from July 21, 2008, until Roustan was terminated Aug. 6, 2009, “because of the default in performance,” Stofko said. Roustan breached the terms of the contract and failed to carry out its fiduciary duty, the Chiefs alleged in the lawsuit. Branovan and W. Graeme Roustan allegedly are liable because the corporations were used to further their personal interests, Stofko said. Although the lawsuit does not give a specific amount of compensation being sought by the Chiefs, an exhibit lists bills totaling $299,079 as unpaid. “Repeated requests have been made on the defendants to pay and bring current said obligations” but theyʼve refused to do so, the lawsuit says. The bills, dated in both 2008 and 2009, range from small amounts, including $20 owed to Ear Nose and Throat Associates, up to $70,948 owed to Reebok-CCM Hockey US Inc., according to the exhibit attached to the lawsuit.

The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 4:31 PM

Planet Ice reopens as bank takes ownership » Local News » The...

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March 12, 2010

Breaking News Road closings updated - 1 Hours Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 1 Hours Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 4 Minutes Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

Planet Ice reopens as bank takes ownership
(http://tribunedemocrat.com/local /x912869981/PlanetIce-reopens-as-banktakes-ownership)
By SANDRA K. REABUCK
(http://tribune-democrat.com)

There were no bidders at a sheriffʼs sale for Planet Ice in Richland Township on Friday, so CNB Bank of Clearfield took ownership of the facility and is leasing it to two Johnstown businessmen. Todd Berkey

JOHNSTOWN — The 7.5-acre Planet Ice property in Richland Township, which has been operating for months under a financial cloud, took on a new life Friday with CNB Bank of Clearfield taking ownership at a sheriffʼs sale and two local business partners immediately leasing with plans to buy it.

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12-10-30 4:32 PM

Planet Ice reopens as bank takes ownership » Local News » The...

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The bank had a judgment for $596,209 against the owner, 195 Jari Drive of Johns-town, formerly known as Roustan Johnstown. The bankʼs judgment is among several reportedly totaling $1.5 million against Roustan. When no private bidders showed up at the sheriffʼs sale, CNB took possession by paying $269,349 in sheriffʼs costs and commission and the $258,030 owed in delinquent property taxes to Cambria County, Richland Township and Richland School District. Business partners Louis Mihalko and Jim Vasilko are leasing the two-story building, which includes the popular skating rink, for a short-term operation. The lease will remain in effect until the two men get the financing in place to buy the property, they said. The rink, which was closed for several days, reopened Friday afternoon with Rink Management Services brought in by Mihalko and Vasilko to operate and manage the facility. Rink Management, which is based in Mechanicsville, Va., operates 30 rinks in the U.S. “Weʼve been after this property for quite some time. It just didnʼt work out. There were too many issues clouded over the former owner, and not necessarily from the rink. CNB Bank really saved the rink and got us involved. The place would have been closed without the bank. Two days ago they (the bank) got us involved,” Mihalko said. Mihalko and Vasilko are local businessmen who own and operate commercial and industrial real estate throughout the Greater Johnstown area. They also operate two construction companies – Mihalkoʼs General Contracting and Johns-town Construction Services. Since Wednesday, the construction workers have been busy at Planet Ice sprucing up the place to get ready for Friday afternoonʼs reopening, Mihalko said. An open house will be held at a later date, he said. The business partners believe Planet Ice can be further developed, Mihalko said. He said there is about 60,000 square feet of warehouse space and about 10,000 square feet of space available to be leased out on the second story. “We think we will be able to fill the building and bring in some new employment,” Mihalko said. With the delinquent taxes - some dating back to 2006 - being paid in full, the three taxing bodies will get a windfall they didnʼt count on in their budgets this year, President Commissioner P.J. Stevens said. Richland School District is to receive $172,889; Cambria County, $69,322; and Richland Township, $15,819. A sheriffʼs sale deed will be prepared within 30 to 45 days showing the transfer in ownership to CNB Bank, Mary Lou Varner, a sheriffʼs office employee, said.

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12-10-30 4:32 PM

Planet Ice reopens as bank takes ownership » Local News » The...

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Information about the rink, its hours of operation and programs is available by calling 262-7465. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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12-10-30 4:32 PM

New owners working to put Planet Ice on solid ground » Local...

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May 9, 2010

Breaking News Road closings updated - 1 Hours Ago UPDATE: Storm fatality victim identified - 1 Hours Ago LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here - 5 Minutes Ago

LATEST ON SANDY -- Thousands still without power here
Check out our live stream from Central Park downtown by clicking here. Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

New owners working to put Planet Ice on solid ground

Bantam Division hockey league players practice at Planet Ice in Richland Township last week. Dave Lloyd

(http://tribunedemocrat.com/local /x334275093 /New-owners-working-to-put-Planet-Ice-on-solid-ground)
Randy Griffith rgriffith@tribdem.com (http://tribune-democrat.com) JOHNSTOWN — Jim Vasilko and Lou Mihalko want to save the planet. The two business partners have been operating Planet Ice for two months and are about to wrap up financing to purchase the 7.5-acre Richland Township property.

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12-10-30 4:33 PM

New owners working to put Planet Ice on solid ground » Local...

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Public response to cleaning, painting and equipment upgrades has been promising. “The ingredients are here to make the facility extremely successful,” Mihalko said at the Jari Drive business. He and Vasilko got a phone call around 5 p.m. on March 11 after CNB Bank of Clearfield acquired the property during a sheriffʼs sale. They agreed to operate the business, entering into a lease at 9 a.m. March 12. Planet Ice reopened under new management at 1 p.m. that day and had about 100 skaters on the ice by closing time. “We had that many hours notice to prepare and take over,” Mihalko said. “We had very little to work with.” Business necessities such as computers, cash registers and even phone cords had been removed by the former owners, Mihalko said, adding that he and his partner have no experience in rink management. For the first two weeks, they had an outside management company oversee the transition and train local staff. From a core group of holdover employees, Mihalko has seen the beginnings of an improved operation and new attitude. The new ownersʼ investment in improving the business has encouraged staff. “Morale and attitudes have changed,” Mihalko said. “(Employees) are so appreciative. Itʼs a breath of fresh air. They are willing to work as if it is their own.” Leading the operation as general manager is 24-year-old Alexis Cunningham, a talented figure skater and instructor who has been part of the Planet Ice family since before the rink opened in 1999. She was teaching learn-to-skate classes for several months before she could collect her first paycheck on her 14th birthday. She went on to skate competitively at the University of Delaware and has coached several champions. “She has run the rink,” Mihalko said. “She has seen the hows and whys.” “I have been here long enough to know what works and what doesnʼt work with the facility,” Cunningham said. “It is nice to have the ability to affect all the things that will help the rink stay open.” A ʻhappening placeʼ

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12-10-30 4:33 PM

New owners working to put Planet Ice on solid ground » Local...

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The new ownersʼ investment is already having a positive result. Additional community hockey leagues and high school hockey programs have begun talking about moving to Planet Ice next season. More than 20 adult hockey teams now practice and compete at the facility, sharing ice time with more than 100 competitive figure skaters. “Itʼs amazing what talent is coming out of here,” Mihalko said. “We had no idea the usage of this facility. It is cutting edge technology and talent.” But the new owners want to see more. They are already talking about adding speed skating and curling programs. Brainstorming sessions cover a broad spectrum of special events and promotions. Former Johnstown Chiefs forward Jean Desrochers has agreed to lead marketing efforts. Sean McTighe is operations manager and leads the hockey program. A smaller version of video screens similar to JumboTrons in major stadiums is being installed over the ice, and locker rooms are being expanded. New rental skates are on the way. Much of the energy is being directed at making Planet Ice a destination for young people, Cunningham said. “We want to expand on the public skating,” she said. “People can come here and thereʼs something to do. There is adult supervision.” Video games, dances, broom ball events, college intramurals, fraternity and sorority outings are among the promotions. There is even talk of a battle of the band on ice. “Those are the neat things I think we may introduce in the near future,” Mihalko said. “On Friday and Saturday we want to make it the happening place.” Troubled past Focusing on the rink business will allow Planet Ice to thrive as never before, Vasilko said. Previous owners have operated the rink as a secondary business to ice equipment manufacturing in the same building. “We are making the operation of the facility a high priority for the community,” Vasilko said. Planet Ice was originally built as part of the former Burley Ice Rink Supplyʼs plant. John Burley admits the rink suffered as a side business. “I originally thought it would be a good idea to have manufacturing and rink together,” Burley said from his current venture, Everything Ice Inc., 115 School St. in Salix. “The rink building business took 100 percent of my energy.

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12-10-30 4:33 PM

New owners working to put Planet Ice on solid ground » Local...

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“The ice rink became more of a distraction.” Conditions got worse under Roustanʼs absentee ownership, Burley said, adding that he sees major improvements under Vasilko and Mihalko. From new paint, landscaping and general repairs to long-term maintenance and improvement plans, the new owners are on the right track, he said. “Workers are very motivated and committed to the facility,” Burley said “They are being treated like owners by the owners. The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA The Tribune-Democrat 425 Locust St., PO Box 340 Johnstown, PA. 15907

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