City Council Approves Agreement With L.A. Kings For Santa Clarita Ice Center

 Published February 23, 2021


The Santa Clarita City Council approved an agreement for the Los Angeles Kings organization to assist in the operation of the Santa Clarita Ice and Entertainment Center during their regular meeting on Tuesday.

The council unanimously voted to award a five-year contract to the L.A. Kings, along with American Sports Entertainment Centers (ASEC) which operate 23 sports facilities across the country, according to the City of Santa Clarita.

“As soon as we are able to get the community back, I know that they are really going to be excited about what we are bringing and look forward to moving this process forward,” said Councilmember Cameron Smyth.

Mayor Bill Miranda spoke on the grassroots movement from the community in support of the former Valencia Ice Station, adding it has transformed since the City bought the property last year.

“What started out as a groundswell movement, a grassroots movement is now coming to fruition,” Miranda said.

There are “limitless opportunities” for the 93,000 square-foot facility, said Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste, adding as the community enters out of the pandemic more options for events.

Several members of the public spoke during the meeting, including Elaine Ballace, who shared concerns about the ASEC’s operation of figure skating. Saugus resident Steve Petzold requested more information on the financials and sought clarification on the relationship between ASEC and the L.A. Kings.

Brad Berman, president and chief operations officer for ASEC, said the company has a joint venture with the L.A. Kings for facilities in Southern California.

Berman said the Ice and Entertainment Center is unique compared to their other facilities and sees ASEC as a steward for the City and its property.

To address the concerns, Berman said that figure skating at the Toyota Ice Center is “as robust, if not more robust” than the hockey program, citing several Olympians who have come out of the facility.

City Manager Ken Striplin addressed the concerns saying the City is going to still oversee the facility and can make adjustments to the programming as needed.

“The City of Santa Clarita still owns the facility, we still supervise, oversee and have final word in the operations of the facility,” Striplin said. “This is something special to this community.”

Councilmember Marsha McClean asked if the operator planned to hire Santa Clarita residents, with Berman ensuring the staff is going to be local.

On Sept. 14, 2020, the City published a request for proposals to find an operator of the Santa Clarita Ice Center, said Assistant City Manager Frank Oviedo during the meeting.

Included in the selection process was a site visit in October of 2020, according to Oviedo.

ASEC and the L.A. Kings were selected by City staff out of six applicants, due to the operator knowing the Southern California market, the assistant city manager said.

The operator has the L.A. Kings Ice at Pickwick Garden in Burbank, as well as the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo.

Across five years, the City is expected to pay over $9 million for the operation of the ice rink, with the option of two additional five-year renewals, according to City documents.

The City is expected to maintain oversight of certain operations, including marketing, sponsorship and special events. The contract amount for each fiscal year consists of an operating budget, base management fee and an annual incentive management fee of 10% of revenue greater than $2,500,000 annually.

All other revenue raised by the Santa Clarita Ice and Entertainment Center is expected to go to the City.

On Aug. 25, 2020, the Santa Clarita City Council approved the acquisition of the property formerly known as the Valencia Ice Station on Smyth Drive, according to the agenda.

For this facility, because improvements were funded by both taxable and tax-exempt bonds, private use of the facility is limited to 25%. In addition, it is important the City maintain a certain level of control over the manner in which the facility is managed, according to the agenda item.

On Jan. 19, American Sports Entertainment Company and the Los Angeles Kings were  selected out of six applicants that applied to move forward to the negotiation and award phase of the process.

“ASEC/Kings demonstrated an in-depth understanding of the scope of work and provided a detailed operations approach,” said City officials.

As operator the ASEC and Kings act as a manager of the Ice and Entertainment Center, providing all staffing, supplies, furniture, fixtures, equipment, inventory for sale, amenities, routine maintenance, repairs, services and other items as may be required to support the operation and management of a quality municipal ice facility, according to the City.

At 93,000-square-feet, the Ice and Entertainment Center is expected to once again host hockey, figure skating, curling and recreational skating.

The management companies are set to provide programming, including hockey leagues and birthday parties, as well as the operation of the pro shop and equipment rentals.

The facility is not only expected to host sporting but other events as well. Imagine banquets, mixers, conventions, concerts, charity galas, sporting competitions and more taking place on covered ice, said City of Santa Clarita officials.

The Santa Clarita Ice and Entertainment Center is expected to open in the coming months, a City spokesperson said.