The Alberni Valley Bulldogs got the break they needed from the city and now the rest is up to them.
Port Alberni city council voted in favour of a 50 per cent reduction in team operating fees for the next two years. The team originally asked for a 50 per cent reduction on their ice rental fee but the plan isn’t possible because of a community charter provision.
“People have been waiting for a vote of confidence from the city,” Bulldogs business manager Lucas Banton said. “This should be a great move forward.”
The team currently pays $4,300 per month in rental costs and $1,000 per game for playoffs.
The team owes the city a total of $63,500 in fixed and additional costs plus payments to the end of July.
The amount will remain on the city’s books as accounts receivable items.
Team officials committed to working out a repayment schedule with the city.
The Bulldogs are an asset to the community but business is business, Coun. Hira Chopra said. “They owe $50,000 to $60,000, that debt they have to pay,” he said. “When the good times come they will have to pay the full price.”
The move couldn’t have come at a better time, Banton said. Team sponsorship sales were sitting at 80 per cent in April but have since stalled.
A favourable vote would instill investor confidence and re-invigorate the campaign, he added.
The plan hinged on a deal between the Bulldogs and Alberni Clayoquot Regional District.
The deal would see Bulldogs receive a $25,000 grant from the ACRD and in return work it off by providing equivalent value in services such as assisting with a recycling initiative, as well as providing assistance with trail building, said Coun. Cindy Solda who is the city’s rep on the regional district board.
The plan is still being fleshed out and there’ll be more to report at the next meeting, she added.
If the Bulldogs got a break then why can’t other multiplex user groups, Solda asked. Parks and Recreation manager Scott Kenny said such a move would be “suicidal”.
Revenues from a rentals total approximately $450,000 year from all groups, Kenny said.
“If you said “OK, we’ll do it for other groups” then we’re looking for $225,000 reduction in revenue at Multiplex,” he said. The move would create a domino effect at other facilities with other groups requesting similar deals. “There’s no way we can get that from cutting expenses,” Kenny said after the meeting.
Solda also asked what the team brings to the community, specifically to groups who aren’t getting a break.
Bulldogs assistant coach Adam Heyduk outlined several initiatives the team is involved with including spring hockey camps to school projects, and from hockey schools to donating food to the Bread of Life.
Banton estimated that the economic impact of the team in the Valley is in the $750,000 to $1 million range.
Solda also asked why the team can’t do a one-year deal instead and come back again next year if they need to.
Banton replied that from a business standpoint stability and certainty are the foundation for investor confidence and continued progress. “Breaking even this year is enough of a challenge as it is,” he said.