EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is the second in a two-part series featuring the business side of the Northern Arizona Suns and their first year in Prescott Valley. We also update the bankruptcy status of the Prescott Valley Event Center, and the efforts being made to return hockey to Prescott Valley. Part one: NAZ Suns ink 5-year deal after successful 1st season
After an hour-long session at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix on July 12, the Prescott Valley Event Center and all interested parties are one step closer to finally moving forward from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Despite objections raised by a few underwriters, federal bankruptcy Judge Madeleine C. Wanslee reviewed the case, suggested a few “tweaks” to the disclosure statement and ordered it be sent out to over 300 creditors for a vote, according Ivan Legler, attorney for the Town of Prescott Valley.
“Nothing very earth shattering. The purpose of the hearing was to review the disclosure statement that goes along with the plan document to all the creditors,” Legler said. “[The judge] requests the creditors vote on the plan.”
Legler continued, stating Judge Wanslee reviews the disclosure statement to make sure it’s “adequate and sufficient in detail.”
A typical disclosure statement in the state of Arizona for Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings requests debtors review the plan of reorganization, keeping in mind the proponent feels the plan is in the best interest of the creditors and is “fair and equitable.”
Then it’s up to the debtor to accept or reject the plan.
Legler expects the disclosure statement in the PVEC LLC case should receive enough votes to move forward, but added Judge Wanslee holds the final say.
“In the end, the judge can approve the plan either way, whether people vote for or against it,” Legler said. “The judge has a lot of authority.”
Seen as a community asset by all parties involved, PVEC general manager Scott Norton believes with the Northern Arizona Suns as anchor tenants and Spectra using its connections to bring events back to Prescott Valley, PVEC is set up for success.
“We feel there’s a great upside to the facility. It’s a great facility, great market. We feel we can program it with more activity,” Norton said.
NAZ Suns president Chris Presson said recently the Suns organization is “looking forward” to the PVEC “emerging from bankruptcy.”
“There are brighter days ahead,” Presson said, adding Norton understands the business fully and the building is “heading for great success.”
“He’s been really good to work with in the short time he’s been there,” Presson said of Norton. “He’s a very good communicator, very willing to listen, tries to see things from your side and I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent with him.”
Norton, who works for Spectra, a Philadelphia-based arena management company, is currently operating under a “consultant” contract, but once the Town of Prescott Valley takes over arena business and bankruptcy proceedings run their course, that is expected to change.
“We anticipate negotiating a long-term management deal,” Norton said.
Spectra operates over 140 arenas nationwide, two of which host G League teams. The Iowa Wolves (Minnesota Timberwolves) play home games at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, and the Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls) host their contests at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
The Des Moines facility is also home to the Iowa Wild, an AHL club affiliated with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.
Norton said PVEC just finalized a long-term deal with Pepsi and expects other sponsors will “come on board shortly.” They are also looking to sell naming rights to the arena, but there’s been no movement on that front.
“I like to think the Suns coming here was a catalyst to all of this,” Norton said. “Promotors like buildings to be busy, they like to have anchor tenants … Quite frankly, we just need a little bit of a track record here for [promotors] to take a risk on the market again.”
With Norton’s first job coming with the Hartford Whalers, he’d certainly like to see hockey return to Prescott Valley.
For that to happen, Norton said two things need to occur. One, there needs to be a local ownership group willing to go the distance; and two, dates for two anchor tenants would need to be worked out.
“In the minor leagues, everyone wants to play on the weekends,” Norton said, adding he – along with Spectra – continue to talk to both the AHL and the ECHL about the possibility of a club in Prescott Valley.
At one point, Norton said, there was an effort to bring the Arizona Coyotes’ AHL Roadrunners club to PVEC, but they chose Tucson instead due to it being a bigger market overall.
A million people in Tucson versus 150,000 up here, Norton said.
“That’s a situation where the NHL team is underwriting the cost,” Norton said. “Yes, they want to sell tickets and be profitable, but at the end of the day it’s probably not the most important thing. Whereas an ECHL team you’re pretty much on your own to make it or break it.”
JULY 20 MEETING
Next on the agenda for PVEC and bankruptcy proceedings is a meeting Thursday, July 20, involving the Prescott Valley Town Council, the Entertainment Center Community Facilities District and PVEC LLC.
The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is associate sports editor and a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.