The Oshawa Express - Global Spectrum takes over GM Centre
Global Spectrum takes over GM Centre

By Jessica Verge
The Oshawa Express

A Philadelphia-based company has officially taken over management of Oshawa’s General Motors Centre. 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 MLSE’s new strategy to move away from managing facilities where it does not own a sports team. The company recommended Global Spectrum, which manages London’s John Labatt Centre, step in and Oshawa council agreed.“I’m absolutely excited,” says Mayor John Gray. “We think Global is operating great facilities, we’ve seen it first hand in London.”

And Gray believes Global Spectrum will be able to do what MLSE couldn’t, 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 was“like pulling teeth.”“They have the entertainment background that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment didn’t 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 Spectrum’s 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 Oshawa’s distance from Toronto, Ohl is confident the GM Centre will thrive.“We’ve done this in other similar markets,” he says. While council’s vote to turn over the contract to Global Spectrum was a 7-1 majority, not all councillors are so sure about the plan.

“It’s 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 Oshawa’s economic future when MLSE couldn’t in good times. But it’s agreed that hard work is needed to secure the GM Centre’s 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. Ohl estimates Oshawa can expect to see activity at the GM Centre by the end of the summer.

And Gray is confident they’ll stick to their word.“MLSE didn’t have their hearts in it,” he says. “(Hiring Global Spectrum is) certainly a big relief for us.”





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