Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Oshkosh arena owner seeks more time to put plan together, cites progress on operations, management

Future Bucks LLC, the owner of the Wisconsin Herd, is said to have approved the delay.
This post has been updated with information about the arena's new chef and his past affiliation with the Cannery Public Market in Green Bay.

By Miles Maguire
The owner of the Menominee Nation Arena has asked for more time to file a plan of reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

“The debtor is not a large company, but they face a complex reorganization,” said Evan Schmit, an attorney for Fox Valley Pro Basketball Inc., in a motion dated Dec. 16.

Fox Valley filed for bankruptcy protection Aug. 19 and had an exclusive right until Dec. 17 to propose how to resolve its financial problems.

The company wants an extra two and a half months to develop a plan and says it has the support of many, although not all, of its creditors. Those who have agreed to the extension include the city; Future Bucks LLC, the owner of the Wisconsin Herd; and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Schmit said.

Those who have not explicitly endorsed the extension include the arena’s largest creditor, Bayland Buildings Inc.; Oshkosh businessman Eric Hoopman; and the law firm that used to represent Greg Pierce, the president of Fox Valley. Lawyers for Bayland and Hoopman were not immediately available for comment.

“The debtor reached out to counsel for Bayland but was unable to connect prior to the filing of this motion,” Schmit said.

As the end of the year approaches, potential lenders are likely to focus more on closing existing deals rather than working out the terms of new loans, Schmit said.

“The debtor believes that little progress will be made toward financing or a plan during the upcoming holidays,” the filing states. “The debtor believes that with additional time it will be able to obtain financing to provide more favorable terms to creditors.”

As of the beginning of December, the arena had about $29 million in debts and about $24 million in assets.

Lawyers for the arena argue that good progress has been made in improving the business, which includes a restaurant called the Maple Pub. For example, Fox Valley has hired a new executive chef, Toby Reichart, who is working on a revised menu intended to “increase the debtor’s food and beverages revenue,” court documents say.

On the LinkedIn social media site, Reichart describes himself as a “traveling emergency chef” and restaurant consultant. He had been working at the Cannery Public Market in Green Bay, but that role ended in early August, said Erin O'Toole, the Cannery's marketing manager.  

Fox Valley is also broadening its management team by hiring a “director of marketing to further increase ticket sales and sponsorship revenue and a controller to assist with the internal finances,” according to court papers.

As previously reported the arena owner has hired two brokers to help with finding new financing, switched ticket agents and dropped some expensive suppliers.

The arena owner is projecting to expand its events offerings starting in February. “The debtor has also been meeting with a number of high profile entertainment groups and specialty partners, to discuss the possibility of creating unique offerings and programming,” according to the court filing.

If the delay is granted, Fox Valley would file a reorganization plan by Feb. 28 and try to get it approved by April 30.

Oshkosh is waiting to see what the next steps will be on the arena’s financial plans but has “no legal objection” to the delay, said City Manager Mark Rohloff.

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