ST. CATHARINES – It arrived in hail of laughter and out-loud joshing about the draw being fixed.
But it was Niagara IceDogs owner Bill Burke who was selected as the first 20-year lease for a luxury suite at the Meridian Centre.
“It’s all the extra glue I put on all the extra balls,” Burke said with a smile.
“I don’t know of you’ll see me in the boxes that much, but I’ll be there all the time,” he added.
There were 21 of the 24 available special boxes in City of St. Catharines leases that ranged from five-20-year terms at $15,000 per year.
A tiered-lottery system was done Wednesday evening at the St. Catharines Club by drawing balls from a drum.
The successive winners starting with the 20-year leases, got the pick of suite locations.
In the end, 17 were sold and a total of $3.1 million raised over the terms of the contracts.
Myles Gallagher, CEO of the Superlative Group which ran the draw, said the result was unprecedented in his company’s experience running such sales over 20 years.
“We have never seen these kinds of luxury suites go like this on the opening night, ever,” said Gallagher, also the Meridian Centre’s sales agent.
City economic development director David Oakes said the draw represents the city’s first offering of the high-end boxes.
“I think coupled with the Meridian Credit Union ($5.23-million) spectator facility-naming announcement on Tuesday, the business community has really stepped up,” Oakes said afterward.
“It shows the confidence they have in this project, St. Catharines and Niagara.”
Deposits of $2,500 were required to secure a spot in that night’s draw, with a suite agreement to be executed and returned to the city within 60 days, or the suite is relinquished and the deposit withheld.
Oakes said suite licencees get eight seats per suite, which are all the same. The suite user would be responsible for buying tickets to the hockey games and events held at the downtown facility.
The suites include a room with a countertop bar, a fridge, TV, and an area of fixed seats that overlook the action below.
“The advantage here, is every suite is good,” said Oakes.