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Monday August 25th, 2014

Posted at 7:30pm

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The Windsor Express will get a permanent dressing room, office space and free practice time at the WFCU Centre after City Council approved what some councillors described as giving the team a chance to succeed.

After a two week period to look for some “creative solutions,” council discussed how to balance taxpayer money with the needs of the team.

The Express had first appeared before Windsor City Council on August 6th looking for a three year deal that would see the team receive lease credits of $115,000 per year and also asked that the city wave the $1 ticket surcharge on any free tickets given out by the team. The team also asked for free office space in the arena, a dressing room for the team, and use of a full practice facility.

City administration rejected the proposed deal and instead recommended that they revert back to the original first year agreement the city had with the team that would require the Express pay $4,530 per game for rent, and the city would wave the $1 surcharge on only 150 complimentary tickets.

After a debate at council, City Councillors voted to send the report back to administration, in the hopes a better deal could be worked out that would help the team, but not have the city lose money.

At council tonight, Councillor Jones proposed giving the team a permanent sign that reads “Home of the Windsor Express,” at the team’s expense; a dedicated dressing room space that the team must pay to renovate, but with no annual fee; practice time at the WFCU Centre at no charge; and a 50% share of all concession sales.

The proposal included unlimited complimentary tickets with no surcharge, but the team must collect a surcharge for all sold tickets. Under the proposal, the team would have to pay $3,500 per game.

Jones said “they made us proud bringing back a Canadian championship the second year,” and noted that his proposal allowed both sides to take risks.

The proposal was approved by council in a 7-4 vote and will be valid for one year.

Councillor Joanne Gignac cautioned that council’s job was to protect the taxpayer and stated she did not support the proposal.

Councillor Alan Halberstadt said the city would not really be losing money under the proposal and noted “it’s almost made up on the surcharge on the tickets.”

Mayor Eddie Francis cautioned that giving the Express such a generous concession sharing agreement could set a dangerous precedent when council next negotiates with the Windsor Spitfires, and noted that all other teams pay to use dressing rooms.

The Windsor Express’ first home game of the season is November 7th.

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