Ryerson is in final talks with a company to manage Maple Leaf Gardens.
Global Spectrum, a Philadelphia-based company that manages arenas and sports facilities, is in contract negotiations with the university to operate and manage the Gardens before and after it opens.
“There’s no question that we’ve been hired to provide management services,” said Frank E. Russo, senior vice-president of Global Spectrum.
“We’re not in a trial period.”
He said the company, which was hired in mid-December, will be responsible for every aspect of the facility’s management from preparing the budget to hiring and training staff and selling tickets.
The company is the winning bid in Ryerson’s search for a management partner through the RFP (request for proposals) process, according to Adam Kahan, vice-president of university advancement.
“We’re looking to improve on what we have through their involvement,” he said.
Russo was in Toronto Tuesday for a series of meetings with the university to finalize negotiations and to take a walk-through of the Gardens to make sure there are no operational issues with the design.
“Today is literally a kick-out,” he said.
Kahan wouldn’t disclose the amount of money negotiated in the contract, but said that it would be finalized in the next two days.
One of the company’s big projects is to come up with strategies to boost and maintain student attendance at sports games when the facility opens.
“I think that’s a big challenge, to be honest,” said Ryerson president Sheldon Levy.
Russo said some of the company’s strategies will include providing entertainment before and after games, as well as promoting the Gardens’ ties with the past.
However, he said if the company can’t find ways to connect with students, that they’ll look elsewhere.
“If not, we’re looking to sell tickets to the outside community.”
Levy said that the idea is to make every game an event.
“Free wings or beer, or whatever it is, trying to bring students out,” he said.
The target date for the facility’s completion is Nov. 12.