EVANSVILLE, IN — Evansville’s Eyewitness news reported Tuesday night the Evansville IceMen have submitted dates to the ECHL for the 2016-17 season. If one is into reading tea leaves, such a move would indicate negotiations are close enough that the IceMen must feel comfortable in submitting dates for possible home games. The dates, however, become useless without an actual lease in place.
Both sides have been relatively quiet on information since last Wednesday. The IceMen have offered no comment to The Sin Bin since last Tuesday and the Mayor’s office has routinely updated us, saying lease negotiations are ongoing and out of respect for both parties are not offering specific comment. Tuesday evening’s IceMen interview on television and comment from the Mayor’s office is a stark departure from that stance.
I spoke with a representative from the Mayor’s office who confirmed that the IceMen have received an extension from the ECHL until December 15th to have a lease completed.
The Sin Bin reached out to the ECHL Tuesday afternoon for comment on the ongoing lease situation and at the time, what might be a potential extension to the deadline to get a lease agreement in place. League Director of Communications, Joe Babik, responded with the league’s position: “The ECHL is confident the IceMen and the city will continue working on a lease that will allow the team to continue playing in the city.”
The Mayor’s office also stated the IceMen have requested a face-to-face meeting to negotiate. In an interesting twist, the representative I spoke with stated the team requested the Fort Wayne Komets owner be in attendance at that meeting.
IceMen owner Ron Geary has held up the Ft. Wayne lease model as what he hopes to have with the City of Evansville. While speaking with one of the City’s original negotiators last week, he was under the impression that most of what the IceMen were looking for in the “Ft. Wayne model” was present in the City’s lease offer a week ago. At that time, the City shared with me that Fort Wayne pays $42,126 in rent. The last proposal I’ve been given any specifics of had the IceMen rent at $26,500 and that could be stepped down to almost zero based on attendance. I will not speculate what components are or are not missing from that offer. The Mayor’s office did confirm they are attempting to schedule the requested meeting for next week.
Lastly, the Mayor’s office once again passed along that Mayor Winnecke is doing everything he can to keep the IceMen playing in Evansville.
The Sin Bin will continue to follow this story and update as news breaks.