Championship team produces near record profit for Swift Current Broncos
Last season's championship performance by the Swift Current Broncos resulted in the second best profit in the franchise history.
The team announced a profit of $561,500 for the 2017-18 season at the annual general meeting, Sept. 25.
“It was a fabulous year for the Broncos in 2017/18,” Board of Directors Chair Trent McCleary said after the meeting.
“The success on the ice definitely rolled over into the success in the business operations.”
The average game attendance was 2,550 per game, which was an increase of 544 per game over the previous season.
There were 11 sellout games during the regular season and all 13 playoff games in Swift Current sold out.
The 2017/18 team won the Ed Chynoweth Cup to become Western Hockey League champions for the third time in franchise history. The only other time when the Broncos recorded a higher profit was with the championship win in 1992/93, when the profit was $567,000.
“It was a fabulous year,” he said about the 2017/18 season. “There has been of course a lot of turnover in the three directors positions, but going forward we have three quality individuals and there's a template to work off, which is nice for them to have. So we want to keep it going. We know that there's going to be probably some on-ice challenges, just because of the cyclical nature of junior hockey. We're a development program, so we develop both on and off the ice and in the business operations. When we have success, other opportunities open up for our staff and our team, and we have to roll with those punches and we're ready and looking forward to the challenges ahead of us.”
He noted the Broncos sold 2,406 season tickets in 2017/18, which is a new record. The team's success created a lot of enthusiasm in the community, which resulted in good season ticket sales for the 2018/19 season.
“We're starting the year with a record number of season tickets, I believe just over 2,150 season tickets for this year,” he said. “So the business operations with the franchise has done a very good job maximizing the onice product into the office success as well.”
The board of directors have realistic expectations for the new season, considering the many changes in the make-up of the team.
“We expect a competitive team that will be working hard, but we're also realistic to know that there's some building that has to happen,” he said. “We're always looking for success, and it might not be in the wins and losses, but it might be in development. ... It's realistic to say we're going to be building for another championship team and we really hope it doesn't take 25 years.”
It will be the task of new Broncos Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Dean Brockman and the new Director of Player Personnel Gary Aubin to find players and to develop a winning team. In the interim McCleary felt there will be a significant role to play for the team's new Director of Business Operations Nathan MacDonald.
“There's lots of other ways that Nathan MacDonald can create the fan experience other than just the on-ice product and it's things like that we're going to hope to maybe carry us through some of the leaner times with the on-ice,” McCleary said.
MacDonald mentioned that the profit from last season's success has created a solid foundation for the business operations.
“The team that's been there since before I was there has been working really hard in making sure that our game day experiences is something the fans really enjoy, and I'm looking forward to contributing to that,” he said. “I'm not exactly sure what that will look like going forward, but I think there's a lot of ways that we can improve and just having a customer first mentality and we're here to support our community. So that's our mindset and our goal going forward.”
According to Shane Lacasse, the chair of the finance committee on the board of directors, the Broncos had a cumulative profit of $1.3 million over the last six years.
“We're going to conservatively invest it for right now,” he said. “We've got educational liabilities that we've got to be very mindful of that we got to make sure that we have enough cash for that. We're going to have to be very careful here in the next couple of years.”
He felt the biggest challenge for the Broncos from a financial perspective will be to maintain their season ticket base.
“That's the lifeline of the Broncos,” he said. “We worked really hard to get to this point where we have over 2,000 season tickets and the whole trick is just to try and maintain that season ticket base and making sure our fans are engaged.”
Brockman's goal as head coach and director of hockey operations is to see the team improve during the season.
“We'd like to get to a fast paced game, but right now we're kind of dealt with what we have and then we're just going to have to work hard, compete hard, and just not be denied every time that we play,” he said.
He acknowledged that it might be a challenge to keep Broncos fans happy while the team is going through a development phase.
“We're not going to keep the fans happy every night, just because we're at a phase in our program right now where we have to reset and do things right, not just for this year, but for next year and a year down the road,” he said. “So unfortunately we're in that situation. ... You have to go through that cycle and we have to create some things. We don't have a tremendous amount of assets to go out and just rebuild and reload. So it's going to take time and we hope people have patience, but I understand when they don't, for sure.”