121 shareholders showed up at the Holiday Inn on Mayor Magrath Drive Monday night for the Lethbridge Hurricanes 2012 Annual General Meeting.
The big story of the night turned out to be the significant financial loss for the community-owned hockey club in the 2011-2012 WHL season. The team's balance sheet shows a deficit of $602,284. Lauralee Burton from Moriyama and Burton Chartered Accountants provided a breakdown of the financial statement for those in attendance. One of the biggest loses was in ticket sales. The club projected ticket sales last season at $1.5 million, but only brought in $984,000. When it comes to expenses last season, the Hurricanes actually came in under budget.
As for this new hockey season, the hockey club is projecting a loss this year (2012-2013) of $179,000. The AGM was told at this point, the club has sold 1500 season tickets, which is around the same mark as this same time last year, but the difference is this year's ticket sales are at full price, as opposed to 25% off last season.
A question was asked by a shareholder as to how close the hockey club is to actually being in bankruptcy. President Don Clark says the team has been working with City of Lethbridge the past few years regarding a lease for the ENMAX Centre, are currently in negotiations and expects things to be resolved by the end of the year regarding that. He says ENMAX Centre and the City are committed to the long term sustainability of the hockey club. Clark says the team is working with the City to come to an agreement that's workable for both parties. Clark noted the hockey club is trying to work with the City to potentially help cover some losses, but he wouldn't go into specifics.
Club President Don Clark told me after the AGM, the financial loss is due to a variety of reasons, mainly because the team was unable to reach it's goal of selling 2500 season tickets at a discount price of 25% last year. Other factors include the play of the team on the ice as well as the ongoing renovations at the ENMAX Centre which are now complete heading into this upcoming season. Clark says the 25% off season ticket campaign never generated enough interested last year and never took off. He says going forward there are no excuses. The rink is complete with no renovations and now "it's on our backs". Clark notes there is a lot of excitement going into this season. As for the $179,000 projected loss for this upcoming season, Clark says the Board wants to be honest and straight up with shareholders going into 2012-2013.
Several other reports were given from the current Board of Directors as well as from Head Coach and GM Rich Preston.
Preston gave his Hockey Operations report. He told shareholders the team is still looking for a couple of billet families for a few players, so anyone interested should contact the Hurricanes office. Preston went over the past season saying to put it mildly it was "a rough start", but he's proud of the way they fought through adversity, which made this group a lot stronger. Preston feels that will help these players in the long run. He says this is the first year in the last four he can see a real turn in the players coming back to camp. Preston said he's very optimistic going into this year. He says he's very excited to have acquired a top goaltender in Ty Rimmer in the off-season. Preston notes Rimmer has a great compete level which will be huge for the team. Preston reported Michael Sofillas has looked very good in the last few days after missing all of last season with a concussion and his fitness testing was "off the charts". Preston says the players are very excited to be training and have camp at the ENMAX Centre for the first time in a long time after having to use Adam Ice Centre during the renovations. He says the Hurricanes new dressing room and training facilities are as good as any in junior hockey.
Board of Directors Vote
Dick Gibson, Dave Gurr, Brian McNaughton, Nick Polychronopoulos, Doug Paisley, Dave Olson were announced a few weeks ago they would be running to fill the 6 vacant positions up for grabs on the Board of Directors. 5 other names were announced from the floor including former Lethbridge Mayor Bob Tarleck, as well as Gary Saloff, Pat Shimbashi, Keith Hitchcock, and Glen Bright. All 5 accepted to put their names forward.
After the voting was all said and done, the 6 new Board members elected or re-elected include the following:
Nick Polychronopoulos, Dick Gibson, Dave Olson, Pat Shimbashi, Doug Paisley, & Brian McNaughton.
McNaughton was elected to a one year term while the other five have been elected to 3 year terms.
The New Board of Directors will elect a President at it's next meeting.