Thursday, September 17, 2009


All Cantonians/Stark Countians know that the city of Canton cannot be affording to let out its facilities to anyone these days.  Canton is facing a $3 million deficit next year.

So when the SCPR got this tip from a reader, The Report went into action to find out what is going on.

The tip e-mail:
Mr. Olsen, (sic)

Come to find out that Joe Hoffman (the owner of the Canton Legends) has been renting space at the Canton Memorial Civic Center for over a year without any payments to the City of Canton and no lease since the team is all but dissolved.

I can't verify this, but he was also a contributor to Healy's campaign and also to his big "thanks for electing me" party at the civic center that he held for the "small people" of Canton.

At this crucial time in the City's Budget, I cannot believe that we the citizens of Canton would allow free office space to a private individuals so called business.  I'm sure you would even like to have this free office space to run your business out of.

I would love to start up a small business in the City if they would give me free space in one of their buildings.

I'm not sure if council is even aware of this.

Thanks for your time.

concerned tax payer (sic)

It took no more than a phone call to Canton Public Services Director Warren Price.

Price confirmed the SCPR reader's point.  Indeed, the Canton Legends are currently the beneficiaries of about 1,500 square feed of office space at the Canton Civic Center  (Center) "for the time being."

Price has huddled with Canton development department people (presumably Economic Development Director Robert Torres) as to what to do when Canton officials learned that the Legend would not be competing in League play in 2009 and a Healy administration decision was made to allow the Legends to keep space at the Center in the hope that the Legends could reconfigure the ownership factor so that the team would be in a position to have games at the Center in 2010.

The SCPR learned from Price that Canton received $40,000 in game associated revenues in 2008 and also benefitted from increased food concession sales.  In the contract between the city and the Legends (a copy of which the SCPR has obtained and which is available here for readers to view), did not specifically break out office space as a separate rent item.  The space was deemed to be included in the formula for the city's share of ticket sales revenues.

So how long is the "rent free" to be maintained, now that there are no games (2009) to produce revenue for Canton?

December 31, 2009 seems to be the deadline right now, if the SCPR understands Price correctly.

Earlier in the year, Legends officials (who declined to answer the SCPR's e-mail) were telling Price et al that 2010 was looking positive.

But that was early in the year.

Price indicated to yours truly that he is pessimistic that 2010 will be a go for the Legends even though he has given the go ahead to Center officials to reserve dates for the Legends' games in 2010.

What does the SCPR make of this?

First, the "concerned taxpayer" should be concerned.  But the city appears to have "not forgotten" about this situation and has taken the attitude that the space being used by the Legends is not needed for other uses and there is no rental demand from other sources and therefore no harm is done in allowing the Legends to maintain a presence at the Center.

Second, Price assured the SCPR that if there is a better alternative that comes along, the Legend will get trumped for the sure thing.  This seems sensible to The Report.

Although the SCPR has been highly critical of the Healy administration for the past 10 months; the Legends/Center situation and how it is being handled does not trouble The Report.

Let's hope that the Legends get financial matters worked out and resume play at the Canton Civic Center in 2010.

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