Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
I want to echo the sentiments expressed in “The Column” in yesterday’s Sun. Yes, they quickly forget. The “they” are those critics of the contract between the City and the AHL Devils for their use of the Tsongas Arena. The forgetting is the full court press in some circles to dismiss the events of last winter and spring..
According to the Column, not only is in-coming U. Mass Lowell Chancellor and current Congressman Marty Meehan pressuring the City to renegotiate the University’s agreement with the City concerning the Tsongas Arena. The Chancellor-select has been joined by the stealth-like Lowell Civic Stadium and Arena Commission.
We all know what happened. In January 2006, a few days after Mayor Bill Martin was sworn into office he was informed by the locally-owned Lockmonsters that the team was up for sale. The Mayor along with then City Manager John Cox formed a task force if civic leaders and they went to work immediately to “Save the Lockmonsters.” They did what the City wanted them to do at the time.
Then the New Jersey Devils agreed to purchase the Lock monsters (and we were thrilled) with two conditions: 1) an increase in season-ticket sales; and 2) a new lease for their use of the Tsongas arena. So businesses and individuals were strongly influenced to buy season tickets. And everyone chipped in; including U. Mass Lowell who according to the April 15, 2006 edition of the Sun, the University committed to 50 season tickets.
According to an article written by Mike Lafleur in the May 14th edition of the Sun, Arena Commission Chairman John Costello, Jr. believes that “the city and UMass Lowell could be in a better financial position to pay for the project [fixing the ice] if the Lowell Devils no longer played 40 sparsely attended home games at the arena each year. Lafleur adds that “Costello said the pact has become too much of a financial burden on the arena.”
And here is the direct quote that infuriated me, “It’s a fairly onerous contract [the one with the Devils].” Why didn’t Mr. Costello speak up when the City Council was discussing this contract? If the Arena Commission was not privy to the negotiations and was only informed of the details after the fact, then Mr. Costello could have whispered to his former colleagues at the Sun.
But that is not what happened!
Then there is the op-ed written by Dana Skinner that appeared in the Lowell Sun on May 29th. As the Athletic Director of U. Mass Lowell, he outlines quite well the problems facing the University’s hockey program, and the history of the arena as it relates to U. Mass/Lowell. But as one of the three University representatives on the Arena Commission when did he become aware that the U. Mass Trustees had a problem with the rental agreement? And when did he make the City aware of those concerns? Those questions are not answered.
Furthermore, last June another University representative on the Arena Commission applied for the City Manager’s position. During her lengthy interview, did she discuss her concerns, if she had any regarding the Devils’ contract?
Today, the Devils contract may not be in the best interest of the City but it was a decision that we ALL made; now we ALL need to take responsibility for our collective actions.
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