SRC Arena: Caught in a public/private partnership

May 7, 2012

Onondaga Community College continues to turn over information regarding the SRC Arena, and three other not-for-profit entities, to county lawmakers who requested it last week. The flap over this financial information and its availability to the public is the result of a new world of public/private partnerships.

According to OCC President Debbie Sydow, it starts with financial pressures to come up with more sources of revenue.  That's the case with the SRC.  The new arena, when vacant, is rented out as an entertainment venue.  This ultimately creates a conflict between lawmakers who want to see the contracts, and private companies that don't want to lose a competitive edge.

"What this is about is trying to honor commitments on two sides.  One is a commitment, under law ...about public disclosure.  The other is a commitment that is set aside to make sure we are honoring and acting with integrity relative to our partners," Sydow said.

Sydow says some vendors who signed a contract with SRC were upset that the terms might become public.   Legislator Pat Kilmartin says ultimately he wants everyone to work together.

"With these different facilities we now have in the county, there's an opportunity for everyone to cooperate, to work together, to maximize the number of events that come to all our facilities, to maximize revenues that come to these facilities, and ideally reduce the cost to taxpayers," Kilmartin said.

Lawmakers are reviewing the county's share of OCC's budget, and say they won't move ahead until they have all the financial information on the arena.