The Revelstoke Grizzlies Society's outgoing board of directors leads an emotional annual general meeting at the Revelstoke Forum on Tuesday. From left: Cheryl Fry

Revelstoke Grizzlies Society working to keep team in town

Revelstoke Grizzlies Society has 30 days to buy back team and keep it in Revelstoke.

The Revelstoke Grizzlies Society is making a push to keep the team in Revelstoke, following an emotional annual general meeting at the Revelstoke Forum Tuesday evening.

The society, which was meeting for the first time since the team’s sale to 100 Mile House, voted in a new executive and formed two committees to solicit community and corporate support for the team.

The society owned the team until it was sold to Ronald Kolman, Joe Dauenhauer and Michael Jodoin for $15,000 in 2006. The current owners took over the team before the 2009-10 season.

When the society sold the team, a clause was put into the contract giving the society the right to buy back the team for $1 if the new owners planned on moving or folding the team before May 31, 2016.

On Monday, the Times Review learned the current ownership group, which is led by Michael Roberts and also includes Lou Hendrickson and Joe Kozek, filed an application with KIJHL on Sunday to sell the team to a group in 100 Mile House.

Roberts cited declining attendance and corporate support, as well as mounting financial losses as the reasons for the sale.

On Tuesday, the ownership group presented the society with a $25,000 cheque from a security bond that was to be released should the team be moved or folded. Kaler said she would discuss the sale contract with a lawyer.

The society has 30 days to exercise its option to buy the Grizzlies and at its AGM it elected Mavis Cann as president to lead the efforts at saving the team.

Cann established two sub-committees – one to solicit fan support and the other to solicit corporate support. The goal is to see if there’s enough interest in the community for the society to be able to afford to keep the team here and assume the team’s debt, which was speculated to be in the $60,000 range, though none of the owners were in attendance to confirm that number.

Graham Inglis, the director of finance for the City of Revelstoke, said the city was owed money by the team but he did not have the exact numbers available on Tuesday.

Roberts told the Times Review earlier Tuesday that he needed to sell the team to pay of the team’s debts.

The team’s move still needs to be approved by the KIJHL’s board of governors. Grizzlies’ coach and general manager Randy Quakenbush said the league’s managers were holding a conference call on Apr. 11 to discuss the matter. The board is expected to vote on the move on May. 6.

Quakenbush, who has a long history of involvement with junior hockey in B.C., said that based on his conversations with other people involved in the KIJHL, there was a desire to keep the team in Revelstoke.

“They see Revelstoke as a flagship organization,” he said.

The society’s AGM, which was attended by 27 people, began with a tearful resignation by President Tammy Kaler, though she chose to remain on the board and help with efforts to save the team.

The meeting was acrimoniuos at times, with Roberts accused of being underhanded with the way he handled the sale. Others, notably Cheryl Fry, supported the time and effort Roberts put into managing the Grizzlies. She said he shouldn’t be villainized in the matter but Kaler refuted him.

“Mike Roberts has several options,” said Kaler. “His choice was to reach in and grab the team out from under us.”

The society voted to meet again next week, before the managers’ conference call.

Disclosure: Newly elected Revelstoke Grizzlies Society president Mavis Cann is the publisher of the Revelstoke Times Review.

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