The Lloydminster Bobcats is looking for some financial aid from the city as they face an uncertain season.
Bobcats General Manager Nigel Dube presented his case at the Governance and Priorities Committee meeting on January 18. Dube outlined some of the challenges the organization faces as the AJHL season was put on hold when the new COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in Alberta.
“One of the biggest things is the restrictions on crowds and not having people in the stands. We rely heavily on our sponsors, our fanbase and our fundraisers. A lot of those fundraisers are based around people being in the facility and being a part of that.”
The AJHL has not announced if the season will continue yet. The Bobcats organization has found other ways to build up their financials such as the 50/50 draw and other sources outside of sponsor support. Dube adds they’ve also reached out to alumni to see if they would be able to help the organization get through the year.
“We’re looking to continue to make sure that junior hockey is a strong structure and part of community and preparing for what might be ahead with all that’s happened in the last 11 months. [We’re] being proactive in planning and preparing for the ups and downs we might have from now into the future.”
Hockey organizations in Saskatchewan such as the Battlefords North Stars and other SJHL and WHL teams recently received assistance from the province. The WHL was given $3 million while the SJHL $1 million to help cover the shortfalls caused by the pandemic. When asked if there was a similar request for the AJHL and other Alberta leagues, Dube says there has been but no answer has been given yet.
“We have no word on that. Obviously, it was approached and taken forward but we have not gotten any word back on what that looks like.”
Dube says the bare minimum for operating costs is about $18,000 which will help get the organization through until August. He adds the organization has also cut costs where they can and have gone from 15 employees to 4. During the meeting, Dube pointed towards other teams in the both Alberta and Saskatchewan junior leagues who have some sort of agreement in place with their respective cities.
The City of Estevan approved a $150,000 cash sponsorship over two years for the Bruins as they look to host the 2022 CJHL Centennial Cup. As part of the original bid, the city agreed to $50,000 in grant seed funding as well as waiving rental fees on the arena during the 10-day event.
On the Alberta side, Drumheller approved a change in fee structure for facility rentals with the Dragons two to three months into the pandemic. The Dragons were granted a 75 per cent reduction for the 2020/2021 season then a 50 per cent reduction for the next two years then a 25 per cent reduction the following year before returning to normal in the 2024/2025 season. The town noted it would cost them about $66,000 over the four year period but the team brings in roughly $1 million to the city through economic spin off justifies their decision.
Spin off was a point Dube also brought up during his presentation noting that when teams come into Lloydminster they are spending money on hotels, restaurants and other services which boosts the local economy.
Mayor Gerald Aalbers says it’s a tough decision as many businesses throughout the city face the same challenges and provide their own impacts to the local economy.
“Every part of business in the city has an impact by bringing people into retail, restaurants, hotels, buying gas, attending functions [which] all have spin off effects. It all makes our community a better place and provides employment opportunities and opportunities for business people to make a living and support organizations in the city as well as pay their property taxes. It’s a huge piece of the puzzle and each piece falls into that puzzle accordingly.”
“It’s very worthwhile information and I think it’s important to the community. At the same time, we have to be realistic with the taxpayers dollars.”
The matter will come back to city council for decision at a future meeting.