Eviction puts Sportsplex back under city watch

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — A partnership once called a “win-win” situation turned into a loss for both parties.

Barring any last-minute changes the city will this week resume management of the Taylor Sportsplex, 13333 Telegraph. JRV Consulting had been running the arena complex under contract to Taylor since 2011, and throughout 2012 was in negotiations with Taylor officials to purchase the facility, which hosts hockey and soccer.

The company, however, fell behind in rent due the city with more than $84,000 owed. A decision reached last month by Wayne County Circuit Court ordered JRV to vacate the building by Jan. 8.

“They have until Monday to pay back rent,” Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand said. “We’re prepared to step in and take control.”

CIty management of the sports complex would be a first, Lamarand said., but officials were prepared to continue the current hockey season without interruption.

As of Friday morning the city received no indication that JRV intended to make a financial settlement and continue managing the complex. Neither JRV President and CEO Jack Vivian nor Vice President of Operations John Vivian were available for comment by press time.

JRV had been issued a 30-day notice from the city on Oct. 31 that, if payments weren’t made, the operating agreement would be nullified.

Tensions between JRV and city officials flared off and on over the past year. In April city council approved a potential sale of the building to JRV for $6 million, a plan that included having the sports consulting firm relocate its Ohio corporate offices to Taylor. Included in the plan was the sale of 14 acres to be developed as a hotel and restaurant.

Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand said at the time the pending sale was in the city’s best interest and could serve as a catalyst, benefitting the city with much-needed revenue and establishing JRV as a Downriver force in youth sports. JRV signed in September an agreement to manage and operate the Southgate Civic Center Arena, inviting projections of regional tournaments and opportunities for sports enthusiasts in both communities. JRV staff also manages and operates the Melvindale Ice Arena and Community Center.

Southgate City Administrator Brandon Fournier said that the agreement was for management but did not include plans for JRV to become owners of the facility.

Negotiations for the $6 million purchase failed after a bank reported a $4.5 million value of the facility. The city of Taylor remains owing an estimated $14 million for the building; the proposed sale would have allowed the city to continue offering its services while paying down a debt. Improvements made by JRV worth nearly $200,000 were noted, and lease payments through April were waived.

However, July and August lease payments were not made, the monthly rental was increased and by September JRV owed Taylor more than $60,000, which they pursued in court.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)