Future of Alberni Bulldogs in question

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs are a year behind in ice rental payments; community ownership model a challenge to work with for society

The city is in danger of losing its Alberni Valley Bulldogs if the B.C. Hockey League team doesn’t improve its financial position this year, Bulldogs’ business manager Lucas Banton said.

The team owes the city $46,000 in unpaid ice rental, and Port Alberni city councillors are considering a request to shave the team’s ice rental fees in half in advance of next hockey season.

The plan will help the team balance its books, create certainty and show value to potential sponsors, Banton said.

There is a sense of urgency this year because the longer the team loses money the higher the risk is of insolvency,  he said.

“Are we in danger of losing the team? Potentially, yes,” he said. “We’re working out way out of that danger but we’re not there yet. We need to move faster.”

The Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society bought the team in 2012 for $600,000. The society joined the ranks of the Merritt Centennials, Prince George Spruce Kings, Trail Smoke Eaters and Powell River Kings as teams run under community ownership models.

But the model hasn’t gained traction in Alberni yet. A viable financial plan was a key selling point with the BCHL when the PAJHS bought the team.

A request to study the Bulldogs’ financial report was denied.

“It’s not in the best interests of the team to disclose our financial position,” Banton said. “We’d be at a competitive disadvantage if teams we compete against know our finances intimately.”

According to the BCHL, teams, regardless of their ownership structure or situation, are not required to disclose financial statements.

Under the BC Societies Act, only members of a society have the right to request and see financial reports, a Service BC official said.

Banton said that the team has moved to reduce costs. The team is a year behind paying its ice fee payment to the city, he said. But it is requesting a 50 per cent reduction in the rate.

“It’s too dangerous to lose money. It adds debt to the balance sheet and it’s too risky to have that.”

The community model has merit if it is given time to grow out, Banton said.

“Societies can access grants that a private ownership can’t. And there is a deeper sense of connection to the community in large part because the team’s profits stay in the community,” he said.

“But it’s important to keep this in perspective: businesses can take up to five years to turn around. It’s only been two years here.”

The PAJHS required the assent of the BCHL board of governors before it took possession of the team. When asked if the BCHL could order that a team be sold, BCHL communications spokesperson Brent Mutis said “the BCHL is directed by its board of governors, following regulations and bylaws which include ownership issues. However, these regulations and bylaws are private within the league.”

Banton said he doesn’t foresee a scenario where a new owner comes in to take over the team—therefore, it’s make or break for the PAJHS. “It would take three to five years to make a profit, or there would be huge support for something new,” Banton said. “A new owner may be reluctant to keep the team in the community.”

The team has also grappled with the turnaround of business managers—three since 2012. But they might have found a keeper in Banton. A business analyst by trade, he works with governments and businesses and specializes in business turnarounds.

“We’ve fixed 80 per cent of the problems we were facing when I came in,” Banton said. “Things aren’t getting worse, they’re getting better.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

 

Just Posted

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
SD70 chooses new name for AW Neill School in Port Alberni

New name honours Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples’ connection to region

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read