MACON, Ga. – For Ellen Tully, “fun” is the operative word these days when it comes to the Vermilion County Bobcats.
The SPHL’s newest team, located in Danville, Ill. does not begin play until this fall, but that does not mean that there’s much relaxing around the team offices, especially with a current staff of two before it’ll be filled out to a full group of six within the coming months.
Until then, Tully, the team’s owner as well as the Bobcats assistant coach, Sebastian Ragno are staying plenty busy, meeting with potential business partners and learning the lay of the land in the SPHL. That included a trip down south to Georgia last weekend with both Tully and Ragno in the Macon Coliseum where the Macon Mayhem hosted the Pensacola Ice Flyers. The trip was two-fold. While on one hand, it was to spend time interacting with the Mayhem’s ownership group and exchanging ideas and best practices, it also offered a chance to see some of the league’s on-ice talent in person. That could be highly advantageous going forward when it comes time to target players for the Bobcats roster.
“It’s been chaotic but a lot of fun,” Tully said. “Once we got into the building, people said, ‘oh this is where the work begins’ and I said, ‘no, this is where the fun begins’. This is what all of us with the organization have worked for.”
Last week’s trip to Georgia also included a trip to Columbus, home of the FPHL’s River Dragons.
“I wanted to make it a point to get to know everyone face-to-face, see what all they are doing in arenas. I think it’s important that we all have a good relationship with each other,” Tully said. “The league has been like a family for me and everyone has had an open-door policy for questions. It’s vital we continue those relationships.”
But what’s there to do away from the arena? An awful lot. Between sponsorship sales and building interest for ticket sales, there is no shortage of things to have taken care of.
“When we’re not on the road, we’re working on our sponsorship packages, our tickets, our website, dealing with interviews…you name it,” Tully said. “It’s two of us doing the work of six until we get the rest of our staff in.”
Speaking of tickets, Tully is excited about what’s been received so far. In short, interest has not been a problem.
“We’ve had a really great response. Within the first 48 hours (of announcing the team), we had about 400 likes on the Facebook page and we’re approaching about 1,000 three weeks in, which I think is fantastic,” Tully said. “We have not really put anything out yet on season tickets, but we’re getting calls and interest every day….we’re being really warmly received.”
When the season begins, the Bobcats will have instant rivalries with two other SPHL teams in Illinois, Quad City and Peoria. The excitement appears to be mutual as Tully says that Vermillion County and Peoria have both been asked to take part in a deck hockey tournament that Quad City is planning to host.
“We love working to cross-promote each other in Illinois and support each other,” Tully said. “But we’re also looking forward to playing each other and building on those rivalries.”