By Jessica Verge
The Oshawa Express
A Philadelphia-based company
has officially taken over management
of Oshawas General Motors
As of June 30, Global Spectrum
will assume the operations and
management of the Athol Street
arena, taking over from Maple
Leaf Sports and Entertainment,
which requested to be released
from its contract in April.
The decision came as part of
MLSEs new strategy to move
away from managing facilities
where it does not own a sports
team. The company recommended
Global Spectrum, which manages
Londons John Labatt Centre, step
in and Oshawa council agreed.Im absolutely excited, says
Mayor John Gray. We think
Global is operating great facilities,
weve seen it first hand in
And Gray believes Global
Spectrum will be able to do what
MLSE couldnt, like attracting big name entertainment acts and keeping
the lines of communication
with the city wide open. According
to Gray, receiving monthly financial
statements from MLSE waslike pulling teeth.They have the entertainment
background that Maple Leaf Sports
and Entertainment didnt have,
says Nester Pidwerbecki, councillor
for Ward 3.
Global Spectrum is a subsidiary
of the international sports and
entertainment firm Comcast-
Spectacor and manages more than
70 facilities throughout North
America. Aside from the John
Labatt Centre, Global also manages
the new WFCU Centre in
Windsor, the Wachovia Center in
Philadelphia and the University of
Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, home
to Super Bowl XLII.
Comcast owns the Philadelphia
Flyers, an NHL team, the
Philadelphia 76ers, an NBA team,
and annually produces 10 nationally
televised figure skating events
on NBC. We try to exceed expectations wherever
we go, says Brian Ohl, Global Spectrums
regional vice president of facility management.We believe in working hard and creatively
for more events.
And with several successful facilities
located outside major cities, similar to
Oshawas distance from Toronto, Ohl is confident
the GM Centre will thrive.Weve done this in other similar markets, he says.
While councils vote to turn over the contract
to Global Spectrum was a 7-1 majority,
not all councillors are so sure about the plan.
Its a risk to the taxpayer, says John
Neal, Ward 7, who believes the contract
should have been opened up to a variety of
bidders and is skeptical whether Global
Spectrum can succeed with the uncertainty
of Oshawas economic future when MLSE
couldnt in good times.
But its agreed that hard work is needed
to secure the GM Centres future.We all have to work like hell to make
sure this thing works, says Pidwerbecki.
Oh l believes success will depend on the
city and the Oshawa Generals joining forces
with Global Spectrum.The building cannot be successful without
these three entities
working together, he says.
Oshawa can expect
to see activity at the
GM Centre by the
end of the summer.
And Gray is confident
theyll stick to their word.MLSE didnt have their hearts in it, he
says. (Hiring Global Spectrum is) certainly
a big relief for us.