Escambia County Pensacola

Hayward still has no plan to host Pelicans team

September 8, 2017

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward yesterday asked that Escambia Board of County Commissioners to work out a deal to host the G-League team of the New Orleans Pelicans. SMG, the company that runs the Pensacola Bay Center, told the commissioners that it would cost $5 million in improvements to host the NBA affiliate and continue to be the home of the Pensacola Ice Flyers. Operating losses would increase between $337,000 to $651,000 – the losses have been more than $1 million a year.

Mayor Hayward had no plan to deal with the price tag, even though he has had the request for proposal since March 31 and been the primary point man for working the deal with the NBA team. Several times yesterday, the commissioners asked him how much money the city was willing to put up and got no commitment from Hayward. They pointed out that the city has more reserves than the county.

“I think it’s a win,” Hayward said. He added that he believed the community, county commission, city council and his office were doing “great things” and hoped they and the teams could “collaborate” to bring what he described as another “amenity” to the area.

Commissioner Steven Barry even suggested that the county give the Bay Center to the City of Pensacola, but the Pensacola mayor didn’t seem interested.

In the end, the BCC voted to allow county staff to continue negotiating with the city and Pelicans officials on the use of the Bay Center. After watching the BCC meetings yesterday, it would appear the negotiations will go nowhere unless Mayor Hayward or the Pelicans come to the table with money.

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  • Bill McBride September 8, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Look up “really poor civic leader” in the dictionary and a nice photo of Ashton Hayward will be looking back at you. In addition to this basketball fiasco he just approved the construction of a huge raw sewage storage tank right off Palafox at Moreno Street, the northern entrance to the downtown in which he has invested his political capital. This approval is in direct violation of the city”s Land Development Code and several other ordinances and guidelines. The mayor should represent the interests of the residents of the city, not the maverick ECUA that conducts business behind closed doors. Shame on you Ashton.

  • CJ Lewis September 8, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    The Escambia County Commission should direct its staff to review how the City of Pensacola runs other similar operations. For example, the city knowingly and willfully runs the Osceola Golf Course, Roger Scott Tennis Center and Saenger Theatre at a loss using General Fund taxpayer revenues to fill in the gap. I find it shocking that the city is afraid to charge users of these facilities fees sufficient to cover the expenses of running the facilities. The city’s unfulfilled Community Maritime Park “economic development” project is another example of how the city mismanages things. The city spent a lot more to build little to nothing of what city voters were promised in 2006. Along the way, the developer the city contracted to oversee the project the Community Maritime Park Associates, Inc. (CMPA) screwed things up but most tragically failed to build the promised 976-space parking structure that was always key to build-out of the project. I was especially stunned when I would speak with CMPA Board members and find that they were unfamiliar with the project’s most basic documents to include the Design Criteria Pattern Book that lays out the vision for the project. Escambia County can assess the talents of the city government by evaluating how much taxpayer money has gone into the Community Maritime Park project to date versus how much revenue has been generated for the city’s General Fund, specifically the additional property tax revenues the public was told would be used to pay off the annual municipal bond debts (plural) that total more than $3 million a year. With respect to the Pelicans, a bad deal made quickly is still a bad deal. Longer term, the Pensacola Bay Area would benefit from a complex that provided venues for sports events, concerns and the performing arts. Such a venue should not be built in a storm surge zone which rules out most of Downtown Pensacola. Further, Escambia County does not have to go it alone. It can partner with other local governments to especially include Santa Rosa County and other institutions to especially include the University of West Florida. Ashton Hayward could care less what happens or who ends up paying the bills so long as he gets the political credit. By the way, earlier this year Cindy Pennington projected that the cost of holding each basketball game would be $17,000. As I recall, she said that the Pelicans would not be willing to pay what it cost to hold their games. Someone should contact the website – “Field of Schemes” – and let them access this latest scam.