A final decision should be made in the next few weeks on the next general manager for Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.
Dave McGrath, who has been in the role for the past 20 years, officially retired on Oct. 1 but has agreed to stay on until a successor is chosen.
John Abbott, chairman of the board of directors which operates the facility, said Friday they’re down to a short-list of candidates although he wouldn’t say how many names remain or who they are.
“We did a search for a new GM and we have narrowed it down to a number (but) I can’t say too much because there’s people involved here,’’ Abbott told The Guardian. “We have interviewed (applicants) and gone through the process and narrowed it down and the board will soon make a decision.’’
Following the 1991 Canada Winter Games, the then-Charlottetown Civic Centre and its arena became the responsibility of the city.
Today, the city owns the arena while the provincial government owns the adjacent trade centre.
A seven-member board of directors, which Abbott chairs, is mandated to run the entire facility as a profitable operation independently through a joint management agreement with the three levels of government. The majority of operational funding, however, comes from the city.
McGrath is the only GM the board has worked with since taking over the facility.
As for a timeline on naming a new GM, Abbott said the board should be in a position to make an offer to a candidate within the next week to 10 days. Then, it will be a couple of weeks before any announcement is made because the successful candidate will have to inform his or her employer.
Sources have told The Guardian that the hiring process has been held up and even frozen because there has been at least some consideration in the city corporation given to disbanding the board and having the city take over.
“There was a bit of a wrench thrown into the process, but we’re dealing with that now,’’ Abbott acknowledged. “We would have liked to have had this done, but extenuating circumstances got involved so we’re just kind of in a holding pattern for now.’’
Abbott said it’s not a significant obstacle and that the notion of the city running the arena has “absolutely no traction whatsoever’’.
Abbott said the board will be meeting with city council, likely in the next week, even though it acts autonomously from the city.
“(The city still does) fund us, and there is still a level of respect accorded to both levels of government before we make such a decision. That’s where it’s at.’’
Abbott added that McGrath has gone above and beyond the call of duty the past two decades.
“That's a big operation,'' Abbott said, referring to the job of running the centre. "He does a fantastic job and he should (get credit). Not everybody puts (two decades of) service into a community-minded facility like that.’’