Harbour Grace is looking to NHL player and community native Danny Cleary to iron out some issues regarding the town’s stadium and the facility’s naming rights.
During a regular meeting of council on Tuesday night, Oct. 9, former Harbour Grace mayor Terry Barnes was given the opportunity to make a presentation to council to speak on the contract agreement between the town and Danny Cleary, made back when the facility was still a work in progress.
Barnes explained that during this time, the stipulations of the stadium saw Cleary given the opportunity to put his name on the facility, in exchange for an undisclosed amount of money every year for a 10-year period.
On top of this, the contract states that Cleary would host five hockey schools for young hockey players in the region.
Barnes said the council of that time estimated some 300 children would be interested in taking on this program, with costs for the programs being between $50 and $60 per child.
However, Barnes says the proposed hockey school program has yet to be carried out, and Cleary did not show up to drop the puck at a youth tournament hosted on an annual basis, despite previously agreeing to do so.
“Any and all extra money, if any, was to be placed back in the CeeBee’s organization for the kids,” Barnes explained during the meeting.
“Members of Mr. Cleary’s present hockey school in St. John’s were to participate in said Harbour Grace hockey school. Mr. Cleary also committed to being here to drop the puck at the Danny Cleary tournament, which is held each year in February. We shook hands on this, but he never did show up.”
Barnes also explained that the hockey school program that was hosted at the stadium is not the same one that was originally agreed upon, as is outlined in the stipulations for the stadium name contract.
“I personally endured many confrontations and agonizing conversations as to why I was to support his name on (the stadium) … Along with many other councillors at the time, we took a lot of flak from a lot of people for the amount of money paid with the naming rights,” Barnes added. “It wasn’t about the naming rights. It was about what he was going to do for the kids. Our kids. Our grandkids, in this area.
I strongly feel that because Mr. Cleary has clearly broken his contract, he should be held accountable.”
Don Coombs, the current Mayor of Harbour Grace, later said during the meeting that council had run into something of a he-said-she-said situation with the contract. He explained that placing signage along the stadium was also a part of the town’s side of the contract agreement, however, the signage in question was late being put up, ultimately meaning that the town had not followed through with their end of the contract either.
The signs in question have since been erected.
Coombs then noted that following conversations with stadium manager Carl Dohey, he is hopeful that things will follow through as was laid out by the contract, and that lawyers are working to see the stipulations of the contract agreement carried out.
“The signs are up, things have been done, and Mr. Dohey has worked with our lawyers who will present it back to council, and hopefully get this rectified,” said Coombs. “We’ll get it sorted one way or another. The signs are done, and the hockey school will have to be done, along with any other obligations that will have to be adhered to.”
Cleary was unavailable for comment on the subject, but Mark Reynolds, president of the Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises CeeBee Stars organization,
spoke briefly with The Compass following Tuesday night’s council meeting. He explained that Cleary and his team would still be carrying out their end of the deal in the future, adding that they, especially Cleary himself, are proud to bring these opportunities to Harbour Grace.