New Operator For Sears Center?

The Sears Centre in Chicago, which has been under the shadow of temporary closure, is expected to have a new operator by the end of the month, and the heavy favorite is Global Spectrum.

The Sears Centre, which opened in 2006, is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Minnesota-based developer Ryan Cos. The company has claimed huge costs including debt service and property taxes, and posted an operating loss of more than $500,000 last year.

It floated the idea of closing the arena sometime between October and December but agreed to stay open until the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates could find a new facility operator or until Jan. 1, whatever came first.

The village board of Hoffman Estates voted 5-1 Nov. 2 to begin negotiations with Global Spectrum, according to the Chicago Daily Herald. Earlier that day, the village’s arena commission voted 5-0 to recommend Global Spectrum.  SMG’s Harry Cann, who headed up the Sears Centre proposal for the company, told Pollstar SMG removed itself from the bidding process, citing a change in its dynamics, about a week before the decision, contrary to the Herald‘s suggestion that it was still actively participating at the time of the vote.

Global Spectrum has reportedly proposed a 10-year contract worth $135,000 per year.

The village had backed a $55 million loan to Ryan Cos. for construction, which could cost taxpayers $88.4 million over 20 years, according to the Daily Herald. The financial troubles are in part because of a failure to attract a minor league sports franchise to the new facility.

Meanwhile, GM Jeffrey Bowen has had to cut back his staffing, but recently told Pollstar the venue has seen “substantial growth” in two years, considering in 2006 “there were no bookings, no sponsors, nothing.”