Canes’ agreement won’t cost city extra funds
Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club general manager of business operations Terry Huisman wants to clear up some misconceptions about city council’s decision earlier this week to defer the club’s annual maintenance fee for the publiclyowned Enmax Centre.
“There is no money being lost here to anybody, and it is not affecting the City’s cash flow,” he explained, contrary to what some have said in the community since council voted to defer the $166,667 fee during Monday’s meeting.
“It’s not a taxpayer bailout or anything along that line, and it has absolutely nothing to do with our lease at all other than as it is stated in our lease. That (fee) agreement is a separate agreement from our lease.”
Huisman said the money to pay the fee was originally loaned to the club from the City’s MSR fund, and the fee agreement allowed the club to pay that fixed term loan back annually at a cost of $166,667 to the club through the 2028-2029 hockey season. The same amount of money, Huisman stressed, will be paid back when all is said and done — just one year later.
Huisman thanked council for understanding the financial realities the Lethbridge Hockey Club, which operates on a break-even basis, is facing with actual and anticipated revenue losses due to COVID-19 this year.
“We really appreciate the City working with us on this,” Huisman said. “We are working within the guidelines that are laid out within our lease agreement, and we went through the proper channels and we agreed on both sides, both the City and ourselves, as far as the deferral of this maintenance fee agreement.
“We work in a ticket-driven industry,” he emphasized. “Without the ability to sell tickets to have fans come to watch hockey games, it really handcuffs us in revenue generation. It was imperative we got that agreement (from council).”
As for Hurricanes’ on-ice business, Huisman said all signs remained positive for a late start to the 2020-21 season on Dec. 4.
“Right now (our players) are training in their hometowns getting ice where they can,” he said. “We understand the importance of getting them back to playing and being competitive on the ice. We are working with the league to try and find a solution so we can make it happen sooner rather than later.”
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The ice surface sits empty at the Enmax Centre at the end of a shortened 2019-20 season for the Lethbridge Hurricanes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. @IMartensHerald