We go from the Evansville/Owensboro debacle, to a new situation brewing in Brampton.
The Brampton Guardian reports team officials went before the City Council this past Wednesday, asking for the City to begin talks to buy the Powerade Centre from its owner, Realstar. In addition, the team is asking the city to help cover the team’s projected loss — currently at $1.5 million dollars — for this season.
According to the article, the arena owner’s have indicated a willingness to open negotiations.
“We have a long-term commitment to the City of Brampton and that has always been our intention to do that,” Kaplan told members of Corporate Services Committee. “Our challenge is we have lost a substantial amount of money in the first three years of operation. We’ve lost so much money that under the current circumstances it makes it difficult, without change, to move forward.”
Kaplan says the team’s owners have lost around $4 million since their inception into the former Central Hockey League in 2013. In their first year, the team only managed to attract an average of 2,233 fans per game. After the move to the ECHL in October 2014, the team averaged 2,572 (2014-15) and 2,685 (through 20 home dates this season.) The trend has been to slowly increase the average attendance in their history-to-date.
In an effort to improve their luck on the ice this season, the team brought in five-time champion Colin Chaulk to coach the team; a high-powered offense anchored by names like Brandon Marino (currently in the AHL), Chris Auger and Scotty Howes; and entered into an affiliation with the Montreal Canadiens and St. John’s Ice Caps.
Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey says taxpayers are already helping the Beast, by covering the costs for repairs to a chiller at the facility.
“The Powerade (Centre) has underperformed for a long, long time. It just hasn’t met our expectations and I think we’ve always been troubled about how to fix that,” Jeffrey said. “What you’re asking us to do, I don’t think the City of Brampton has ever done before. We can’t make a decision without knowing what the numbers are and what the long-term impact is because it’s a revenue loss for us.”
Kaplan says he needs to have an answer from the city by February 4, when his financial records for the previous year are due to the ECHL.
Kaplan suggested failure to score a deal with the City could prompt the team to move elsewhere.
“We want to stay forever in Brampton. It’s the right fit for this team,” Kaplan said. “I think there’s a problem with the current three-way relationship between The Beast, the City and a third-party (Realstar). I think if it becomes a two-way relationship like it is in every other city, there are a lot of other revenue opportunities.”
The City Council will meet again this coming Wednesday to continue discussions on the issue.
The Sin Bin’s Scotty Wazz reached out to Kaplan on Saturday and Kaplan reiterated the same talking points as in the Guardian article.
Stay with The Sin Bin for more on this story as it develops.