WHL: Small-market Broncos ‘at the brink’ after $200K loss
By Neate Sager
Rhapsodizing about what small-market teams add to a league's character won't stem the tide of red ink for the Swift Current Broncos. While people might have heard a similar refrain about the financial challenges Canadian Hockey League teams in smaller centres face, the Broncos, who play in the smallest market in the WHL, appear to be in tough straits after announcing a loss of $197,226 last season.
There is no more stark way of illustrating that for all the franchises across the country such as the Vancouver Giants, Quebec Remparts, Windsor Spitfires,lebron shoes, London Knights and Kitchener Rangers who practically run on an American Hockey League scale with junior-aged players, some barely scrape by. While last season was the year of the small-market team with the Kootenay Ice and Owen Sound Attack capturing league titles,lebron zoom shoes, the Broncos had the double whammy of missing the playoffs, which has contributed to season-ticket sales to slipping below 1,500.
In an interview with Broncos broadcaster Shawn Mullin, team chairman Al Stewart called this "the type of loss we can't sustain" and added "we can't cut to the bone," noting that could render the team uncompetitive.
"This trend has to change, immediately. We don't have a great deal of time to mull this over. This is something we have to start to act on. We have a strategic plan, we've gone to our general manager [Mark Lamb], he's very well-aware of what needs to happen and so we're going to get work on it. But they can't go out and singlehandedly turn a $200,000 loss around by selling more souvenirs. This is something that's going to take a great effort on the part of all the stakeholders ... our best leverage to solve our financial problems is ticket sales.
" ... There isn't $200,000 to lose ... we are at the brink." (Broncos Blog)
As the Southwest Booster noted, losses included $882,587 on the hockey operations "before additional revenues from corporate sponsorships, corporate suites and fundraising helped close the gap. It sounds pretty grim,lebron viii shoes, especially when one considers Stewart's comment that some other teams might outspend the Broncos on the hockey operations side by a factor or two or more.
No one seems to be dropping the R-word, relocation,lebron shoes 2011, just yet. but we know a magic solution or a deep playoff run will not just fall from the sky. Nor is anyone saying the market might just be tapped out, even though the Broncos' modest average attendance of 2,135 means roughly 14 per cent of the town's population turns out each night. The fact of the matter, though, is that Swift
The WHL has done an admirable job of showing it can establish a niche in NHL markets such as Calgary,lebron viii, Edmonton and Vancouver. It's been the most successful, arguably, in getting into the United States. Getting a team back in Victoria, B.C., by what some would call any means necessary will ultimately be good for commissioner Ron Robison's league.
However, Swift Current's situation seems to be screaming out for a remedy. As Mullin put it:
When the board says they can't afford to lose $200,000 again and ticket sales are down even lower than last year… it doesn't take a genius to put two and two together .
The Broncos bring over $6 million into the city every year. They contribute over 550 hours of community service a year. They provide entertainment for thousands and are a major reason for any national recognition Swift Current has. The fans here are tremendous but as Al Stewart told me last week … they just need more. That was never more obvious than today. (Broncos Blog)
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.