The future of the Evansville Icemen is uncertain, according to a letter that is posted on the team’s website to Icemen fans from team owner Ron Geary.
In the letter, Geary states that he met with players and staff on Saturday to address the concerns about the team’s ability to obtain a new lease at the Ford Center. The IceMen will not make the 2016-2017 season if the team cannot obtain a lease and deliver game dates for next season by December 1 of this year.
While the team has lost millions of dollars due to its current lease, the IceMen brings approximately $1.2 million to the Ford Center each year.
While negotiations with the city are ongoing, according to the IceMen, there haven’t been talks of relocating.
Below is the full version of the letter posted on the IceMen’s website:
Dear Tri-State Hockey fans and Evansville IceMen Supporters:
When I started this adventure in 2011 we were committed to bringing Evansville a premier hockey team and first class game day experience. In order to do that, we needed you. Well, you came through, in a big way. Your passion, support, and loyalty for the IceMen are what drives our team to perform at the highest level and allows us to give you a remarkable rink experience. I believe we are on the cusp of our primary goal, to deliver a championship to Evansville. Thank you.
Yesterday, I met with the players and staff to inform them about some concerns regarding our lease at the Ford Center. It’s only fair I include the fans so you hear it from me. You see, the lease expires after this season. We proposed new terms to the City several times since February but the City has not proposed any terms and rejected ours. Unless we can obtain a lease and deliver game dates for the 2016-2017 season to the league by December 1, the team will not make the 2016-2017 season.
The team operates at a financial deficit because our current lease is the most expensive in the league. The team has lost millions. I did not want to sign it back in 2011, but I was presented with different terms than what had been discussed with the City for months, and by that time I already moved 22 families to Evansville. I had to sign or lose the team.
Our game attendance, your attendance, is near the top of the entire league. We bring about $1.2 million in revenue to the Ford City each season. The team is well run, coached and managed. As a result, we have the support of our affiliates, the NHL Ottawa Senators and AHL Binghamton Senators. We also have the ECHL’s support. We are going public so the fans are aware of what is at stake and so we can gain your support. You deserve to know what is going on.
The good news is that we have a tremendous team this season. The management team and the rest of our loyal and driven staff are hard at work delivering great hockey at the Ford Center. Show your support for our team – get to a game, get on social media and brag about our great hockey team, call your elected officials, boast about the positive family friendly experience of the IceMen games and help keep that experience right here in Evansville. We only want what is fair – and it is not fair the IceMen continue to lose millions due to an unfavorable lease.
I am cautiously optimistic we can get this done in the next two weeks. I love this team, I am proud of our staff, I relish our fans and I look forward to walking that championship trophy through the doors of the Ford Center. Go IceMen!
Ron Geary, IceMen Owner