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Paper sues to make SMG contract public

The Luzerne County Convention Center Authority and arena manager SMG say the contract for management of Wachovia Arena is proprietary information and cannot be released; the local newspaper begs to differ.

With arena manager SMG and the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority reaching a new management contract for Wilkes-Barre's Wachovia Arena, the local newspaper, the Times Leader, assumed it would be able to print the specifics of the deal.

Wrong, say SMG and the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority: the specifics of the contract are considered to be proprietary and not allowed to be released .

The newspaper say the state's open records law provides for eight exemptions to the public right's to know, and the specifics of an arena management contract don't fall under those exemptions. 

Indeed, the authority and SMG refused to release any meaningful part of the contract, including the percentage of revenues retained by SMG and the fixed fee for managing the arena. There's really no industry standard for arena-management deals, but for SMG to want to hide this information must mean the firm is getting a pretty sweet deal in Wilkes-Barre. Fights like this always look bad for the parties seeking to hide the data.

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