John Thomson  

New Events Centre Penticton

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Three years ago Rick Kozuback was home for a vacation to Penticton and was convinced it was time to build a new events centre in his former hometown. The old Memorial Area where he had played and coached hockey for years was in need of replacement. He sold the idea to the boys and girls at city hall and they struck a deal for Kozuback’s company Global Entertainment of Phoenix, Arizona to do a study on the feasibility of a new multiplex for the city. The study was very positive and the wheels went into motion. Global was promoting Penticton’s Greyback Construction as the builder.

First a little background on Rick, the president & CEO of Global Entertainment. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL) Inc. has served as the President of WPHL, Inc. from its inception until 1999. Now serves as Chairman. Mr. Kozuback has over 20 years of experience in the hockey industry played Canadian Junior Hockey coached and managed various hockey teams in the western United States. From 1993 to 1994, he was Head Coach and General Manager of the Tri-City Americans, Western Hockey League. Was the Associate Coach of the Phoenix Roadrunners, a member of the International Hockey League and farm team to the Los Angeles Kings, of the NHL? His partners in the company and the hockey league are James Treliving and George Melville the men who made Boston Pizza an international giant in the casual food industry. Both well known in Penticton.

After several experiments in expansion and a long battle for players and markets with the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL), the Central Hockey League (CHL) merged with the WPHL in 2001. The CHL has been operating since 1992 and the new league continues to operate under that banner with 18 teams.

Some of the teams are affiliated with the American Hockey League and National Hockey League teams for player development.

Rick is not an easy man to get a hold of these days because his company is in the process of opening three new buildings. I caught him in the Dallas airport on his way to check on the finals stages of the new building in Albuquerque, N.W.

Rick when did you make your first move on the proposed Penticton project?

“That goes back to the official announcement of the 2010 Olympics in July of 2003 that started the process with the former Mayor Dave Perry and I got together. In August Jim Treliving, George Melville, and myself met at city hall with the mayor to talk about the plans. Late in the fall of 2003 or early 2004 we received a contract from the city to do a feasibility study and we delivered that in the fall of 2004.”

Global announced it has broadened its national platform with the signing of a project agreement in the Pacific Northwest and entered the international market with a new project agreement in Western Canada. The company also has three previously announced multi-purpose events centers in the final stage of preparation for grand opening ceremonies in time for the beginning of the 2006/2007 hockey season.

On September 12, 2006, Global participated in ground-breaking ceremonies for a $44.5 million multi-purpose events and entertainment center for the City of Wenatchee, Washington. Global will be the single-source for Design, Development and long-term Management of the operational Greater Wenatchee Regional Event Center that is an important component of Wenatchee’s historic downtown/riverfront redevelopment master plan.

Retail, commercial and residential development along the waterfront and in the historic downtown district. Global Entertainment will provide Development, Management, Marketing and ticketing services for the new facility.

“This is a project that is very much fast tracked, I had my first meeting in Wenatchee in June of last year. It came through an old Penticton Hockey School contact, he asked if there was anything I could propose that would help them. We pitched the idea of a new centre with five thousand seats and a second sheet of ice attached to it. We got funding, and are about to sign our final agreement, we’re working on the site and will physically open Oct. 1, 2007.”

Global Entertainment also announced an agreement with the City of Dawson Creek in British Columbia, Canada for the long term Management, Marketing and Ticketing of the EnCana Centre where Global Entertainment subsidiary, International Coliseums Company, will oversee $10 million of capital enhancements that will increase the capabilities of the multi-purpose facility. Currently under construction with an anticipated opening date of Summer 2007, the events center is projected to offer entertainment, sporting, and civic, commercial, agricultural and industrial events. The EnCana Center features 4,500 fixed seats, 24 luxury suites, and 400 club seats and are part of the South Peace Community Multiplex that also includes the Kenn Borek Aquatic Leisure Centre (8-Lane 25m competition pool, spectator seating for 350 people) and the Lakota Agri-Centre.

Dawson Creek Mayor Calvin Kruk said, “The city is pleased to enter into an agreement with Global Entertainment Corporation. This is an exciting time for our community and region as construction for the EnCana Centre and South Peace Community Complex will be completed in mid 2007. We believe our partnership with Global will ensure a first class venue and entertainment and programming options our citizens will enjoy for many years to come.”

The Canadian team for Global Entertainment Nick Iannone and Ron Gerk of Penticton went to Dawson Creek on a sales campaign and were able to sell out the twenty four private suites in the new building at $25,000 a piece per year. Then it was time to begin the ticket drive for the team, still not named or what league they will play in and 632 people have purchased season tickets so far. The plan is to have 1,200 ticket holders before a franchise is announced. Both Iannone and Gerk are working with Global Canada from headquarters in Penticton.

“Everything in Dawson Creek is a go, they had a reverse referendum on the $10 million loan. We are working on major designs and drawings.”

Also three multi-purpose events centers set to open in the next 30/60 days have a combined project cost of approximately $120 million. The previously announced events centers are located in Prescott Valley, AZ Rio Rancho, NM and Broomfield, CO. The Prescott Valley Convention and Events Center will serve as a major component of a new 40-acre retail and entertainment district, while the Santa Ana Star Center will operate as a keystone for Rio Rancho’s new master planned downtown. The Broomfield Event Center is part of the 206-acre mixed use Arista project. All three venues will host Central Hockey League (CHL) member teams operated by a Global subsidiary through its joint operating agreement with the CHL.

Then at the end of the interview came word the City of Williams Lake have entered into an agreement with Global’s International Coliseums to conduct a feasibility study to develop a multi-purpose events centre in the city. The project would be of a regional nature and would draw people from a 150-mile radius.

Canadian Business Magazine, Canada’s leading business publication, just leased their annual list of the best cities to do business in Canada. A total of forty cities make the annual list, which was started five years ago. What it certainly proves every year is that Western Canada is very competitive all the cities in this part of the country are busy and ompetitive.

Kelowna continues to he strong in the overall picture placing second in B.C. behind Richmond and fourth in the west Edmonton, Winnipeg, Richmond and Kelowna. On the Canadian list 27th ahead of Vancouver 31, Kamloops 35 and Victoria in last place number 40.

1. Kelowna
2. Abbotsford
3. Kamloops
4. Victoria
5. Surrey

I had a chat with Andy Holloway, the writer of the piece for Canadian Business in Toronto.

“One of the things I think we are going to take a look at next year is that some cities look great on paper and consistently look great on paper. If you moved that town with those attributes into like a Vancouver or Toronto position there would be no stopping them. They would be an economic engine bar none, so that is something we are probably going to take a look at next year. Some of these towns have an international focus on them.”

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