At the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ 32nd Annual General Meeting on Tuesday night, the team announced a $737, 710 profit for the 2016/2017 season. It’s quite the turnaround for a franchise that was bleeding money just a couple of years ago.
In May of 2015, Western Hockey League Commissioner Ron Robison urged shareholders to vote for private ownership.
“Private interest would certainly be in the best interest of the club,” Robison said in a May 2015 interview with Global News.
READ MORE: WHL commissioner urges Hurricanes to sell
Financial losses had topped more than $1.25 million over the previous five years. A vote for the possible sale of the team was just narrowly defeated.
The Hurricanes, of course, remained community-owned and fought for financial viability. They needed more fans in the building, and the best way to do that was by winning hockey games.
The Hurricanes won more than 40 games in consecutive seasons and earned back-to-back playoff appearances in the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 seasons. Attendance numbers started to rise and the ‘Canes were back.
“I think the numbers speak for themselves,” the Hurricanes’ board president Doug Paisley said. “Success on the ice leads to success on the budget and success in the financials.”
At the end of 2015, the ‘Canes carried a net deficit of more than $700,000, and entering last season, that number came in at more than $400,000.
With the $737, 710 profit last season, the ‘Canes carry a net asset in excess of $320,000. Close to a million-dollar turnaround in just two years.
“When we looked at it two, three years ago and what’s going to save this franchise is 3,500 to 3,600 (fans) a night,” Paisley said. “And we’ve done it for two years in a row, and it’s 3,700 a night. That’s why there is profit, that’s why we’re in the black.”
Almost all of the profit last season came from the ‘Canes’ lengthy playoff run. The trip to the Eastern Conference Final netted the team $685,000.
“It feels really good to know that we can get to the point where we can be in a profitable position,” Hurricanes general manager of business operations, Terry Huisman, said. “We need to carry it forward and keep doing what we’re doing now.”
The view continues to look optimistic into the future for the team. Season ticket sales are already up nine per cent from last year and the Hurricanes project a $31,714 profit for next season.
Even with so much going right, Hurricanes general manager Peter Anholt isn’t resting easy.
“There’s a lot of credit to pass around it certainly is positive, but again, we’ve still got lots of work to do,” Anholt said. “We’ve got some liabilities to pay off. We want to make sure we achieve the standard and keep working beyond it.”