2/16/11 Bridgeport City Council Documents: "Professional Hockey League" Not AHL/Better

New York Islander Fan Central | 6/07/2015 09:47:00 PM | | | | | | |
Howard Saffan knows 1000x better than myself.

He did all the negotiations for six months in 2010-11 leading to Charles Wang becoming manager of Webster Bank Arena that hosts Bridgeport Sound Tigers hockey.

I'm aware of Mr Saffan's comments to the Ct Post in February 2015 as to how he reads the lease that it's AHL or better, and beatwriter Michael Fornabaio's views/articles on this subject.

However the document changes unanimously approved by the Bridgeport City Council on 2/16/2011 only say "Professional Hockey League."

Because I had a mailing list everything is documented back to Roe Boe's agreement with Bridgeport from day one so there is a lot to digest over the years but not impossible to follow.

Going Back To Roy Boe/2001...........The Short Version: 
Let's go all the way back to Roy Boe in 2001 so everyone understands the original agreement from 2001-2021 has never been a lease for any hockey team with the city of Bridgeport.

As everyone knows the ballpark came first, Bridgeport wanted the AHL, in stepped the late Roy Boe.

Centerplate was re-branded from a company called Volume Services Of America or (VSA) at that time from Boe's original agreement, kind of what Smg has been for the Nassau Coliseum.

They managed  the new arena, provided food services, booked events, and this 2021 date people are calling the Sound Tigers lease is simply this from 2001.

Roe Boe's Sound Tigers lease was only with VSA/Centerplate. 

The Sound Tigers lease was with VSA/Centerplate.
We all know the history, the Islanders signed a five year affiliation agreement to provide prospects  for Roy Boe's new AHL team at the new building called Harbor Yard managed by VSA/Centerplate.

Boe ran out of money by 2004, the Islanders sued the Sound Tigers, Wang bought Boe out becoming Sound Tigers owner, and having VSA/Centerplate as his Smg-like landlord in Bridgeport.

Wang moved a Sound Tigers game to the Coliseum for free admission in March 2005. 

Never found a thing on a Sound Tiger lease extension with VSA/Centerplate to take us to 2011.  

Remember the Sound Tigers playoff games shifted to the Coliseum in 2009? Saffan ripped a VSA/Centerplate employee, showed Fornabaio the lease  and made clear they can have Sesame Street 365 days if they want?

Saffan later apologized, Fornabaio blamed the Sound Tigers because they knew months earlier. 

If you want go back to March 30th 2009 for peripheral backstory. 

How Did Wang Get Rights To Newly Branded Webster Bank Arena In 2011?
On 1/6/2011 a naming rights deal for 3.5 million was announced which changed the arena name from Harbor Yard to Webster Bank Arena to 2021.

VSA/Centerplate by 2010-11 was losing big money, wanted out of fully managing the facility until 2021, Bridgeport City Council/Mayor was worried about the arena going dark like past teams who left, the city council did not want the workers currently at the building to lose their jobs.

Howard Saffan, Mayor Bill Finch worked well on many things around Bridgeport, and were in negotiations for months. I'm well aware of the 2012 Webster Bank Marquee issues, but wish to stay on point.

2/16/11 Bridgeport City Council Meeting/Minutes (five pages)   

Wang/Saffan stepped in to take over from VSA/Centerplate but wanted changes in the agreement in red:

Approval came at the same meeting on 2/16/2011.

Then What Happened?
There were later meetings with approval from Mayor Finch, but mostly a formality, the above discussions asked for some renovating to the facility which was done since several times. (Howard Saffan joked about it at the 2011 press conference)

 Ct Post 4/29/11 & Sound Tigers website had earlier announcement and this is where things have been since despite Ratner's 2013 comments.

VSA/Centerplate stayed in a reduced role, but Wang took over the 2001-2021 agreement all the way back to Roy Boe that was signed from 2001. (above)

VSA/Centerplate under Wang was re-branded again to Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment in 2011.

I left that out because it makes things more confusing but that's the name since.

Unless verbal promises & handshake agreements were made not in those documents the Bridgeport Sound Tigers do not have a lease until 2021, and never had one with the city of Bridgeport since their inception.

In fact the only lease the Sound Tigers have ever had was with VSA/Centerplate which Wang took over in 2011 (now called  Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment) which today only has the words "Professional Hockey League" where American Hockey League or AHL used to appear in VSA/Centerplate's 2001 agreement with the city of Bridgeport.

That's what was changed in those 2011 documents.

Sound Tigers lease? AHL team?

The way the amended agreement reads it could be any professional hockey league.

My knowledge of the Sound Tigers since day one remembers the teams, and leagues in that area that folded or moved.

My reading of those documents by the council clearly acknowledge that history.

Bridgeport city council  wanted any kind of professional hockey to be played, not a dark building which by 2011 already needed some renovating.  

Like I wrote Howard Saffan knows 1000x better than myself, he said AHL or better, however he is out.

Michael Picker who was in Bridgeport when Wang bought out Roy Boe is in at Bridgeport.

6/8/15 Ct Post presents a WalletHub survey that Sound Tigers hockey is not even ranked in terms of being a hockey hotbed. 

Somehow the Hartford Wolfpack are ranked, despite a lower attendance than the Sound Tigers, and who's Ranger branding had been rejected by the Whale fans since day one in 1997.

As written here many times, a Wolfpack playoff game was moved to Webster Bank Arena under Wang's control, some playoff games this year were moved again.

Weeknight playoff games in Hartford produced announced crowds between 2-3,000.