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Komets run for league title precedes challenging lease negotiations with Memorial Coliseum

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The Fort Wayne Komets are pursuing a 10th championship in franchise history, then face the assignment of working out a new lease agreement with the Memorial Coliseum in a tough financial climate.
Big changes are coming to the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Memorial Coliseum.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - The Fort Wayne Komets are three wins away from securing a 10th championship in franchise history.

But the hockey team faces another tough assignment in the coming months off the ice.

We're talking about important negotiations with Memorial Coliseum management to try and lock down a new lease agreement.

The Komets on Friday will start a best of five showdown with the South Carolina Stingrays for the ECHL league title.

If the series goes the distance, games three, four and five will be played in front of supporting fans in the Coliseum arena.

There've been big highs and lows for the Komets in 2021.

For much of the season, the pandemic limited fan attendance, cutting revenues.

The team's lease with the Coliseum is up in September.

The K's for a long time have pushed for a better deal, wanting more than just ticket revenue, hoping to also capture a share of concession sales, suite rental fees and parking revenues.

But money is also tight for Coliseum management.

Because of COVID-19, the building's reserves evaporated.

There have been event cancellations, postponements and re-schedulings, one after another.

Both sides know there's a lot on the line in haggling over the new lease terms.

"You just can't keep going back to your fans and saying, well, will you pay $1 more or $2 more, it becomes where it is a negative for the consumer and that's usually where all this stuff goes, and the buck gets passed on and we don't like that," said Michael Franke, the Fort Wayne Komets President.

"This couldn't happen at a worse time when you think, with the pandemic…with the Coliseum, you know, we lost $3-million last year. We're going to lose probably about $4-million this year. But you just do the best you can," said Memorial Coliseum GM Randy Brown, who announced he will retire at the end of September, closely aligning with the expiration of the current Komets lease agreement.

The Komets beat the Allen Americans Tuesday night, winning the ECHL Western Conference Finals.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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