11000 Everblades Parkway
Germain Arena is the home of the Florida Everblades hockey team, the Florida Firecats football team and (previously) the Florida Flame basketball team, as well as being a venue for concerts and other entertainment events. The Everblades play in the ...More about Germain Arena »
ESTERO — Germain Arena and the Florida Everblades are for sale.
Majority owner Peter Karmanos Jr., 70 and recently retired as chairman of the board from Compuware Corp., is looking to sell the team and the arena. The properties have actually been for sale for about five years, said Craig Brush, president and general manager of Germain Arena and the minor league hockey team.
"There’s nothing new here," Brush said. "What's new is that we hired a company to try to make the deal for us."
Los Angeles-based investment banking firm Park Lane will assist in the ownership sale, said Brush, noting that the economy has improved enough lately to make a sale more probable.
"The banks have loosened up a bit for financing," he said. "It has gotten better and will continue to improve."
In 2007, Karmanos and his partners tried to sell the 7,100-seat facility and the 30 acres around it to Lee County. Karmanos and company, KBT Group Inc., wanted the county to buy the arena for $36 million with the intention to lease it back at $1.5 million per year for the next 20 years.
The 2007 proposal outlined the arena’s impact on the area, including $14 million in direct spending that generates more than $35 million in economic output. The county balked at the offer.
In January 2005, with the NHL on strike and Karmanos losing a reported $135 million, he put the team and arena up for sale and even had an offer. The NHL went back to work and Karmanos put the offer from the Brooks Brothers, James and Robert, who owned the ECHL's Wheeler Nailers, on ice.
Brush said the arena has always turned an operational profit and that the Everblades will not be leaving Southwest Florida.
In addition to the Everblades, Germain Arena was home to the Florida Firecats, an Arena2 football team; the Junior Everblades hockey team; and the Florida Gulf Coast University hockey team. The Firecats have since disbanded.
Germain Arena also makes money by hosting high school graduations and other events including rodeos, expos and concerts.
In the years since the facility opened in 1998 as Everblades Arena, big-name entertainers who have performed there include Elton John, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, the Boston Pops and Guns N’ Roses. Country legend Willie Nelson is performing tonight at the arena.
Karmanos recently retired from Compuware Corp., a Detroit-based software company he started with the late Tom Thewes in 1973 and grew into a multimillion dollar venture.
Karmanos, Thewes and Jim Rutherford purchased the Hartford Whalers in 1994. They moved the team to Raleigh, N.C., in 1996 and renamed them the Carolina Hurricanes. Thewes, a part-time Naples resident, died in 2008, making Karmanos the 100 percent owner of the Hurricanes. He put 50 percent of the Hurricanes up for sale three years ago.
Karmanos, Brush and Thewes formed KBT Group Inc. and in 1997 announced plans to build the arena in Estero. Lee County’s economic development office estimated at the time that the hockey team could bring $4.5 million in additional spending to the county annually.
The Everblades averaged 6,000 fans a game for the first nine years. In 2012, the team won the Kelly Cup, the ECHL’s ultimate prize. They are currently trailing the Reading Royals, 3-2, in the best-of-seven conference championship series.
GERMAIN ARENA FACTS
■ Opening date: The arena opened Nov. 19, 1998, in Estero.
■ Name game: The arena opened as Everblades Arena, named after the hockey game, but became TECO Arena when TECO Energy's Peoples Gas unit purchased naming rights in 1999. It has been Germain Arena since 2004, when the Germain Motor Co. purchased naming rights.
■ Ownership: Peter Karmanos and Craig Brush founded the Everblades and Germain Arena in 1998. Karmanos lives in suburban Detroit. Brush and his family split their time between Estero, Fla., and Birmingham, Mich.
■ Team base: The venue has hosted the Florida Everblades ECHL ice hockey team since 1998, the Florida Firecats Arena Football League 2 (af2) team from 2001-2009, the Florida Flame NBA Development League team 2004-2006, and the Florida Tarpons Ultimate Indoor Football League team since 2012. It also is the home for the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles hockey team.
■ Attendance: Since its inception, the Everblades have hosted more than 2.3 million fans in 358 regular season games, an average of 6,437 per game, and have led the ECHL in attendance in five of the past eight seasons. Germain Arena and the Everblades hosted the 2003 Compuware/ECHL All-Star game and have led the Kelly Cup Playoffs attendance in six of their 10 seasons in the ECHL.