Ceebees deal­ing with deficit

High travel costs, low at­ten­dance blamed for short­fall

The Compass - - OPINION - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

Out­go­ing Con­cep­tion Bay North Cee­bee Stars gen­eral man­ager Kenny Hunt con­firmed re­cently that the club faced pay­roll chal­lenges dur­ing the in­au­gu­ral 20112012 New­found­land Se­nior Hockey League sea­son.

“I’m not go­ing to lie; some were not made,” he said

The Com­pass has con­firmed the Stars fin­ished the sea­son with a deficit, af­ter bud­get­ting some $200,000. The short­fall stems from a surge in ex­penses, and lower than ex­pected rev­enues dur­ing home games at S. W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

“We un­der-bud­get­ted our travel cost. Our stick bud­get and all of that stuff went a bit out of the way,” Hunt said.

The new pro­vin­cial league re­quired the Ceebees to do more travel, as com­pared to the Avalon East Se­nior League, in­clud­ing week­end trips to Grand Fall­sWind­sor and Corner Brook. This in­creased travel costs sub­stan­tially.

“We were used to go­ing to Mount Pearl and Clarenville, which are only an hour and a bit out­side of our home­town,” said Hunt. “It was a (learn­ing) ex­pe­ri­ence for us.”

Hunt es­ti­mates the club ex­ceeded its pro­jected bud­get by be­tween $40,000 and $50,000, but noted, “We weren’t sur­prised by the deficit.”

He de­clined to di­vulge the ex­act amount of the deficit, but em­pha­sized that fundrais­ing ef­forts are be­ing planned in or­der to bal­ance the team’s ledger.

Hunt is leav­ing his post as gen- eral man­ager, but is hopeful the new GM will in­herit a team that is “on an even keel.”

Num­bers down at home

The Ceebees had faith the fi­nan­cial slack would be picked up dur-

LEFT: Out­go­ing Ceebees gen­eral man­ager Kenny Hunt.

ing home games, but at­ten­dance ac­tu­ally dropped in com­par­i­son to past years.

“Be­cause our gates were down, our rev­enue was down,” said Hunt.

He at­tributes this drop in the gate to the rise in ticket prices and a new wrin­kle in the sched­ul­ing — back-to-back games on the week­ends.

“I think the ticket prices and the back-to-back fac­tor hit was a sig­nif­i­cant loss,” he said.

The club was es­pe­cially hurt at the box of­fice when games were sched­uled on Sun­day af­ter­noons, which was new for Ceebees fans.

Dur­ing many Sun­day games, the rink was filled to roughly half its ca­pac­ity, even for games against league lead­ers Clarenville Cari­bous and Grand Falls-wind­sor Cataracts.

“Sun­day af­ter­noon games do not work,” said Hunt. “Our 50-50 was down; ev­ery­thing was down.”

Hunt said the Sun­day for­mat worked in other mar­kets, but is not a vi­able op­tion for the Ceebees.

Some pun­dits be­lieve the fact that some games were broad­cast on East­link cut into the Ceebees’ re­turns, but Hunt was quick to shoot down that no­tion.

It’s also hard to sin­gle out the qual­ity of play, con­sid­er­ing the Stars had plenty of suc­cess in the sec­ond half of the sea­son to se­cure the fourth and final play­off berth be­fore los­ing in the semi­fi­nals to Clarenville, the even­tual champs.

Mov­ing for­ward

De­spite the fi­nan­cial strug­gles, Hunt said there will still be Ceebees hockey come Oc­to­ber.

“We fully in­tend to ice a team next year,” he said.

He’s hop­ing that ef­forts are suc­cess­ful.

“There is a golf tour­na­ment planned and we are look­ing into a cou­ple more draws,” he said. “I’m not walk­ing away from a deficit by no means. I’m go­ing to do my best to fundraise and get this (deficit) cleared off the books.

fundrais­ing

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

This scene from a Novem­ber 2011 Cee­Bee Stars home game in Har­bour Grace is sym­bolic of the fi­nan­cial woes fac­ing the team fol­low­ing the in­au­gu­ral New­found­land Se­nior Hockey League sea­son.

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