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Privateers get new agreement with the city

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The Thousand Islands Privateers are all set to play their second season of hockey in the Watertown Municipal Arena next year.

By a 4-1 vote Monday night, the Watertown City Council approved a franchise agreement for the Federal Hockey League team to play in the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds’s ice rink next season.

Before voting no, Councilman Joseph M. Butler Jr. said he wished the agreement came up after the Privateers complete their first season at the fairgrounds next month. That would give the city access to more information about the team’s financial numbers, he said. The amount of revenue that will be generated by the agreement for next season was not known Monday night because the team’s schedule is unknown, which will affect the number of home games and how much ice time the team uses.

“I just think it’s premature,” he said.

The Privateers will pay more to play their games next season at the city-owned facility.The team will pay a flat fee of $450 per home game to compensate for the loss in revenues that will occur by the city no longer running the concession stand.

Under the agreement, the team will also pay $80 an hour for ice time, up from $70 an hour this year. The city will not know exactly how much the team will pay for ice time — the major source of revenue in this year’s contract — until after the season.

The team also agreed to pay $2,000 to rent the locker room in the fairgrounds’ grandstands, which is used by the Watertown Rams collegiate baseball team.

The agreement also stipulates the team will pay $1,000 for the season for trash removal after the games. City officials said because the city is no longer running the concession stand, it should not be responsible for removing garbage.

The city also will be reimbursed for any legal expenses that might be incurred because of the team.

The city had to pay additional legal costs caused by the kerfuffle with the Liquor Authority.

The city had to give up its right to operate the concession stand after the Liquor Authority ruled that a local catering company, Savory Beverages & Beyond, had to sell both alcohol and food during the hockey games.

Savory was selling beer and wine for the team, while the Parks and Recreation Department ran the food concessions.

As a temporary measure, council members approved an agreement last week under which Savory became a “third-party franchisee” for the team and pays the city $300 per game for the rights to the concession stand for the remaining games this season. The city was making a profit of $527 per game this year.

After the meeting, Privateers owner Nicole J. Kirnan said she looked forward to continuing to work with the city on having the team make the fairgrounds its home.

She thanked council members and city staff for working with the team through a recent flap with the Liquor Authority. Ms. Kirnan also told council members that the team wants to be involved in discussions about future planned improvements at the ice rink.

“We’re excited to be here. This is where we want to be,” she said after the meeting.

Three weeks ago, council members were set to approve a proposed contract, but the issue with the Liquor Authority delayed the vote.

Since then, City Manager Sharon A. Addison and Ms. Kirnan renegotiated a new version of the agreement that was approved Monday night.

Before voting for it, Mayor Jeffrey A. Graham wished the team continued success, saying the modified agreement “identifies the market value” of the ice rink.

The city will continue to run the concession stand during other events. Two years ago, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department took over the concession stand and upgraded it. Until this hockey season, the city lost money on the venture.

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