Powell River Kings junior hockey team will be receiving financial support from the province so players can continue to train, practice and play.
The province’s amateur sport league fund will provide a total of $11 million in one-time grants to help BC-based amateur leagues recover from financial losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kings interim president Joe Mastrodonato said the team put in an application for funding and did receive it. He said he could not say how much the grant is.
“It’s a big help for the organization, considering all of the losses we had last year,” said Mastrodonato. “This will help make up for the shortfall. It allows us to move forward this year, hopefully with some fans in the stands. We’ll hopefully have a successful year financially, but the money is a big help for the organization.”
Mastrodonato said the team is still unsure what this year’s hockey season will look like in terms of the number of fans who can be admitted to games.
“It’s a moving target every day,” said Mastrodonato.
The Kings survive on ticket sales and sponsorships, according to Mastrodonato. He said the team is also involved in fundraising to help underwrite its operations.
“Without that we just don’t have enough [money] to go around,” said Mastrodonato. “That’s the way it has been for 33 years and will probably be in the future.”
The provincial money came in at an appropriate time and the team needs to get financing in place for the next two months until money can be generated from ticket sales, according to Mastrodonato.
“We need to get sponsors and hopefully, sign up season’s ticket holders,” he said. “We’ll see what kind of rules and regulations are handed down.”
Mastrodonato said the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) is a big economic driver in BC when adding up the impacts the teams have.
“Last year it was a huge hit that everybody took; some teams lost a lot of money,” said Mastrodonato. “We appreciate the support from the government. I’m looking forward to the future.”
Kings general manager Chad van Diemen said news of the monetary influx was exciting.
“The BCHL was one of the recipients, as was our team,” said van Diemen. “Joe did all of the submissions and we got word that we were able to get some of that funding. It’s huge.
“It was such a tough financial year. It’s a huge bonus to get any money.”
Revenues and sponsorships were down last hockey season and it was a challenging year, according to van Diemen.
“Joe and our board did an amazing job working our budget and working our funds to ensure we were able to play when the league did get going,” said van Diemen. “It was a lot of work from a lot of people and we were appreciative that we were able to get some games in.”
The Kings are now getting ready for the coming season. The team will be running a prospects camp in August and is in the process of putting the team together. There will be some player announcements coming soon, said van Diemen.
“We’re excited to get going and we’re looking forward to playing in the coming season,” he added. “We’re looking forward to getting people back in the rink and we’re getting a lot of good feedback from fans. They’re ready to get back and they are excited to watch games again.”