Declining attendance, lack of corporate support and mounting financial losses are being cited as the reason for the sale of the Revelstoke Grizzlies to 100 Mile House, says the team’s principal owner.
“The corporate sponsorship has gone down dramatically over the last three years,” Michael Roberts told the Times Review Tuesday morning. “The attendance has dropped over the last three years to the point where it’s just not financially viable to keep operating. The expenses to run the team are rising and we just don’t have the full support.”
The Times Review reported Monday morning that the Grizzlies ownership group, which also includes Lou Hendrickson and Joe Kozek, had filed an application with the league to sell the team to a group in 100 Mile House.
The sale still needs approval from the KIJHL’s board of governors, which will be meeting on May 6 to vote on the issue. Approval from the board requires more than 50 per cent of the vote.
Roberts did not return phone calls immediately on Monday but he spoke to the Times Review on Tuesday. He said attendance had been declining since he purchased the team three years ago.
“We’ve done everything we can,” he said. “We kept the ticket prices the same for three years. We put out a product that was strong and to recruit that product takes money, you have to sell kids on the community.”
The sale of the team had been rumoured for several months but an application to move the team was not filed until April 1.
According to the Revelstoke Grizzlies Society, which owned the team before it was sold to private interests in 2006, there is a clause stipulating the team must be kept in Revelstoke until 2016.
However, Roberts said there was a $25,000 buy-out clause for the society if the team was sold.
“Out of the proceeds from the sale there’s a cheque for them,” he said. “I have a debt to the community I have to repay and this is the only way I can see to repay it.”
He said no local interests had come through to purchase the team.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies Society is holding it’s AGM tonight (Tuesday) at 7 p.m. at the Revelstoke Forum. Roberts was undecided on attending.
“The society couldn’t run it before and I don’t know what answers they’re going to have,” he said.
The Grizzlies have been in Revelstoke since 1991. The current ownership group took over the team at the start of the 2009-10 season and that year, the team won the Keystone Cup as Western Canadian Champions.