Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne stood before a crowd Tuesday afternoon, flanked by city commissioners and IceMen Owner Ron Geary.

City Commissioners authorized Mayor Payne to sign a contract with the Evansville IceMen to play at the Sportscenter.
The deal still needs approval from the ECHL.
Mayor Payne announced the city is selling the Sportscenter to the IceMen for $1. The franchise would then renovate and expand the arena to accommodate ice hockey.
Ron Geary estimated Sportscenter renovations to cost around $4 to $5 Million dollars to add 7,200 seats to the stadium built in the 1940’s.
All this comes after the IceMen and the city of Evansville failed to renew a lease agreement to continue playing at Ford Center in downtown.
In the deal between the city of Owensboro and the Evansville IceMen, the team will buy the Sportscenter for $1, and invest $4 to $6 million dollars for renovations, expanding seating capacity from 5,000 to 7,200 seats, and increasing the size of the arena’s floor to 200 feet. 

“This is one tremendous deal. It is a win for them and it is definitely a win for us,” says Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne. He says adding the icemen will help generate more than $20 million in economic development the next ten years. Geary also plans to open a restaurant with an off-track betting parlor.

“What this does, again, is improve the quality of life in this city,” says Payne. “We’ll be able to attract more people to the city.”

The ECHL still must approve the deal, but Geary says he has verbal approval to play at the Sportscenter. Team owners and the city of Evansville couldn’t reach a deal over the Ford Center lease.

“I never did want to move operations,” says Geary. “I developed the team to be in Evansville, because I wanted to help downtown development and help things. But it just got to things with the high rent that I could not afford losing $600,000 a year.”

Geary says if the plan’s approved, the arena could be ready by the start of next season, which will be in November.

We also spoke with Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke live on the phone during Eyewitness News First at Four.
Mayor Winnekce says the city is in talks to bring & keep professional hockey in Evansville. Click the video player above to listen to the interview.