The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 28, 2013

Authority, SMG to start arena contract talks

Dave Sutor
dsutor@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — The Cambria County War Memorial Authority and the facility’s management company, SMG Worldwide, will soon begin negotiations on a new contract.

A current five-year agreement is set to expire in the summer of 2014. Both parties want to begin talks well before the deadline. An initial conference call is expected to take place later this week.

“SMG is interested to be in this market for the long haul,” said Tom Grenell, acting general manager of the arena and its sister facility, the North Central Recreation Center in Cambria Township. “We at SMG are ready to come back to the table and meet with the board and try to solidify an early renewal that helps everybody.”

Throughout the past few years, the authority and SMG have worked together to modernize the arena’s ticket-selling process, attract nationally recognized performers such as Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan, and bring the Johnstown Tomahawks junior hockey team to town.

For its contributions, SMG receives an annual payment of more than $100,000.

The original agreement was negotiated between SMG and the Cambria County commissioners in 2009.

Authority members want to discuss some possible changes to the financial arrangement, as does SMG.

“We were not involved with the contract negotiations as an authority,” Chairman Dean Gindlesperger said during an authority meeting Monday. “That was handled strictly by the commissioners. It’s going to be much different this time around. The contract committee is going to be looking out for the county’s best interest. At the same time, it will be give and take. It’s got to be a win-win situation, and I’m not convinced it was win-win in the past.”

Gindlesperger added, “We would like nothing more than to be able to renew this thing and work with them as a partner. It’s going to make it a lot easier than going out and trying to find somebody else. Right now, what we need to do is tweak it.”

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