A costly hockey ex­hi­bi­tion

An NHL alumni game in Bay Roberts leaves tax­pay­ers on hook for $13,000

The Southern Gazette - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER TC COM­MU­NITY NEWS­PA­PERS

The Town of Bay Roberts is on the hook for some $13,000 af­ter host­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion hockey game fea­tur­ing for­mer Na­tional Hockey League play­ers. It was the same group of NHLers play­ing in the For­tune Arena the same month.

The town wel­comed a group of NHL leg­ends Feb. 8, in­clud­ing for­mer Stan­ley Cup cham­pion Theo Fleury, to the Bay Arena for a game against a team made up of com­mu­nity mem­bers.

Bring­ing these play­ers to Bay Roberts cost the town some $20,000, but by the time ameni­ties like ho­tels were fac­tored in, the price tag was closer to $25,000.

It’s been learned the town was able to re­coup just un­der half of that – some $12,000 – through pro­ceeds from the game.

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood ad­mit­ted “It was not as suc­cess­ful as we hoped it would be.”

It was the first time Bay Roberts had staged such an event in the com­mu­nity.

Wood said “Coun­cil saw who was in­volved ... and thought we would give it a try.”

The game was not the first time for­mer NHL play­ers had squared off with teams in this re­gion. And, it was not the first time these games have lost money.

From 2011-2012, the Eastlink CeeBee Stars and the Town of Har­bour Grace wel­comed alumni from both the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens and the Bos­ton Bru­ins.

While the S.W. Moores sta­dium was at near ca­pac­ity in 2011, the sec­ond game was sparsely at­tended with Har­bour Grace tak­ing a small loss.

Wood said “The NHL Leg­ends did their part in putting on a good show, but the prob­lem was, the people didn’t come out as well as what we wanted too. We’re dis­ap­pointed the bot­tom line wasn’t as good. “We don’t re­gret do­ing it.” The town has money bud­geted for com­mu­nity events and the fi­nan­cial hit taken through this will not pre­vent them from putting off what they nor­mally do.

Wood sug­gested “It shouldn’t stop us at all.”

OUT­STAND­ING FAC­TORS

The game drew some 500 fans to the sta­dium. Of­fi­cials with the town pointed to a num­ber of fac­tors that con­trib­uted to the lower than ex­pected turnout.

A num­ber of mi­nor hockey teams were on the road, the Amer­i­can Hockey League’s St. John’s IceCaps were play­ing in the cap­i­tal city, and provin­cial se­nior hockey was at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

The Eastlink CeeBee Stars were in­volved in a makeup game with Mount Pearl. The club has a group of 500 fans that faith­fully at­tend ev­ery game.

Ian Flynn, the town’s di­rec­tor of re­cre­ation, said “There are only so many hockey fans that are out there and of course, they were pulled in all dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. The same people that would go to your event are go­ing to other events.”

Be­fore this game, the group re­spon­si­ble for these tours had pre­vi­ously ap­proached Bay Roberts, but the town had al­ways looked at the lineup of play­ers and balked at the idea. Not this time. Flynn said “We saw the lineup this time and thought, ‘ Yup we’ll give it a try,’ and un­for­tu­nately it didn’t work out.”

Ac­cord­ing to Flynn, there are other ways to judge the suc­cess of an event.

Fi­nan­cials is one way, but when speak­ing with The Com­pass, he men­tioned two oth­ers.

“I base it on the fact that the people we brought into our com­mu­nity want to come back, which I think we suc­ceeded in that, and the people who bought tick­ets leave and tell people who didn’t go that you missed a great event. I think we cer­tainly suc­ceeded on that level as well.”

Wood added “It was a great com­mu­nity event.”

The day fol­low­ing the event Bay Roberts was re­ceiv­ing high praise from those out­side of the com­mu­nity.

The ma­jor noted “The spinoff was great. The leg­ends did their part and pro­moted the town, and the people that went there. I haven’t heard a bad com­ment about it.”

Flynn added “In terms of or­ga­ni­za­tion, I think we put off a show that was sec­ond to none.”

De­spite the op­ti­mism sur­round­ing the event it­self, the fact of the mat­ter is it was a sub­stan­tial fi­nan­cial loss to the town.

It is be­cause of this Wood and Flynn said the town would have to give it se­ri­ous thought be­fore bring­ing a sec­ond such game to Bay Roberts.

Flynn said “We’ve dis­cussed amongst our com­mit­tees, we’ve dis­cussed amongst coun­cil and if we were to en­ter­tain the event again, there would have to be some se­ri­ous changes made in terms of go­ing about how we en­sure that there are proper ticket sales.”

Car­bon­ear Com­pass

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