SHEFFIELD STEELERS owner Tony Smith hailed a new deal with its Sheffield Arena landlords - believing it will enable the club to implement more long-term initiatives.
The Steelers have signed a five-year deal with SIV, the company which as part of the not-for-profit Sheffield City Trust (SCT), runs the Arena that the South Yorkshire club have played at since it was launched back in 1991.
Smith, who took over sole ownership of the Steelers seven years ago, said the new five-year agreement was a significant development given the club normally negotiated its use of the venue around short, 12-month contracts.
Now,with greater co-operation between both sides, Smith believes stronger, long-term plans can begin to see the light of day, something not possible under previous agreements with the venue.
“In the past, contracts have been short between both parties and maybe that has been down to the fragile ownership that came before my family took control seven years ago," said Smith. "We are now the longest ownership group in the club’s history and coming with that long-term stability that we have bought is the confidence that the Arena and SIV have in us to deliver.
“In recent months we have already seen so much co-operation between both sides. This will continue and improve. The Arena is our home, it has been for 27 years and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
“This is a good deal for the Steelers, a good deal for the Arena and SIV but - most of all - a good deal for those who come and support us in this great building."
Among the initiatives the two sides are working on are a commitment to improve the quality of the ice and address the issue of the ageing ice plant within the five-year term as well as the creation of a new merchandise store. The club and Arena owners are also keen to develop more community initiatives such as the forthcoming 'Skate with the Steelers' event at IceSheffield.
And in light of the Steelers attempts to bring the Continental Cup Final to South Yorkshire last month - the event was eventually held in Minsk - the club and the venue owners will look to bring major international hockey events to the city.
Dominic Stokes, who is responsible for all events & entertainment at SIV, added: "This marks the start of a new energy and enthusiasm by both parties to a relationship that has existed for the past 27 years."