Owner Seeks Investing Teammate

Despite attendance that has not reached expectations this season, the Jamestown Ironmen aren’t looking to leave the city any time soon.

Recently, several articles on JuniorHockey.com pointed to the possibility that Kenji Yamada, owner of the Jamestown Ironmen, was looking to sell the team.

“I haven’t decided to sell the Ironmen, yet,” said Yamada. “My main purpose is to make sure that I’m providing the best I can for the team. I want the team to stay in Jamestown. I’m looking for a solution where the team can stay in the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, the players can stay on the team and we can provide the best entertainment possible for the city.”

According to Yamada, his primary concern is finding stronger sponsorship and support from the local community to help sustain the team. Due to lower-than-expected ticket sales, the Ironmen have seen some financial difficulties, but if a local partnership or sponsorship is involved, Yamada feels that it would be healthier for both the team and the local community.

“On the marketing side of things, I don’t think that we promoted the team enough to the local community. It’s very ironic, until JuniorHockey.com started running these stories about us, we weren’t getting much attention, but now that they’ve started talking about us, people are asking questions.”

Yamada says that he’s doing his best to be successful for the team, and will be continuing to work on making them a profitable franchise.

Amid the rumors of a possible sale, there was also talk that because of financial instability, the Gebbie Foundation was paying bills on behalf of the Ironmen.

“We don’t really have anything to do with the day-to-day operations of the facility,” said John Merino, CEO of the Gebbie Foundation. “We built the facility with public utility bonds that we got through the IDA and we guarantee the payment on the bonds, but the arena is their own corporation at this point.”

According to Merino, during the first few years, he ran both the Gebbie Foundation and the arena, but several years ago the two entities split and the arena became its own nonprofit.

“We give them a grant payment large enough to pay their bond fee, but that’s about it,” said Merino. “We’re a restricted foundation, so we can’t make payments to private organizations like the hockey team. What we do is like a mortgage payment, just making sure that the bond payments are made each year since it was our idea to build the arena and it was a promise that we had made to the IDA.”