Thursday, 28 September 2017 06:34

Playoff run helps Broncos to turn a profit for 2016-17 season

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A good playoff run helped the Swift Current Broncos to generate a profit of $135,922 for the 2016-17 season.


The team announced the past year's financial results at the annual general meeting, Sept. 25.This was the fourth year in a row that the Broncos declared a profit, and Board of Directors Chair Trent McCleary was pleased.
“It’s been a couple good years,” he said. “Last year it was a tough start, just because of the economy, with the agriculture and things like that. It really picked up after Christmas and the fans jumped on board and we had a really good playoff run getting in six playoff games and going to game seven in the second round. It was a very good year financially.”
The Broncos had a profit of $140,000 for the 2015-16 season, but that was due to to income from the Memorial Cup and the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling Championship in the city. During the past year there was not any additional income and the profit was solely as a result of the team's playoff appearance.
“As a board we always talk about bums in seats and there were more bums in the seats,” he said. “And when there are bums in the seats, they buy more 50/50, they buy more popcorn, they buy more beer, things like that. That’s what’s going to help this team survive. It’s going to be the fans, the community coming out and supporting and coming to the games.”
Game attendance was good during the second half of the season and the average attendance increased to 2,006 per game, which was 37 more people per game than during the previous season. Seven games in a row were sold out – the final regular season game and all six playoff games. Season ticket sales for the new season are already higher than for last year and he believes game attendance can still increase.
“We try to budget for a break even budget just for the regular season,” he said. “If we make the playoffs, if we go a round or two rounds, obviously that starts to bode well for the bottom line and that’s where, going forward, we always will try to balance the budget on just the regular season. That’s where the season ticket push has to start and it did last year in the playoffs, because you get that excitement, you get that energy in the building, you get those casual fans that come to games and are just thrilled with the entertainment value.”
The club's goal is to continue to improve the game day experience for fans, which will make them interested to return to games during the regular season.
“There’s lots of work to be done with the game day experience, with just processes and things like that, and that’s where we get to a spot that you’re happy with,” he said. “You want to look back and say OK, make sure that we can replicate this, and that’s what we’re really trying to do. So the success is great, but the building is still not sold out on a nightly basis. So until that happens, we still have empty seats, we still have inventory to sell, and we’ll never be happy until all that inventory is sold.”
According to Shane Lacasse, the chair of the finance committee, the club already sold 1,584 season tickets compared to last year's 1,347.
“We’re still selling tickets day to day,” he said. “So that puts us in a good situation this year to potentially make a profit again in 2017-18.”
Last season's playoff revenue was $339,920. It made a significant difference to the team's bottom line and with good season ticket sales for the new season the team can potentially increase revenue during the regular season.
The next challenge for the Broncos will be to already turn a profit on income generated from game attendance during the regular season, instead of relying on the playoffs for a profit.
“I think we’re making strides in doing that,” Lacasse said. “That means that we’re a viable business in the long term, the Broncos are here to stay, if we can do that.”
The Broncos changed the team's management structure in 2016 with a clear allocation of duties between Manny Viveiros as director of player personnel, Dianne Sletten as the director of business operations and Jamie Porter as the director of hockey operations.
“We’re very happy with the operation, we’re very happy with the on-ice product, we’re very happy with the player personnel,” McLeary said. “The three directors that we have are doing a good job and it shows. It shows by the product on the ice, it shows by the excitement around the community and I think everybody is excited to see Bronco hockey.”
It was Viveiros' first season with the Broncos and McLeary felt the new head coach built a team that played an exciting brand of hockey.
“He took us to the second round, which we hadn’t been to in quite some time, and just the excitement,” he said. “He’s a coach that likes the offensive flair and I think that boded well for the community. They like that kind of hockey, not that we didn’t have in the past, but it just worked. ... He’s a very likeable person, very good to talk to, and good around the community.”
The team finished third in the East Division and fifth overall in the Eastern Conference with a 39-23-4-6 regular season record. In the second round of the playoffs the team went seven games against the Regina Pats.
“We thought we had a fairly decent year as far as how we did in the regular season and also in the playoffs, but having said that though, we still felt that we left something out there,” Viveiros said. “We were really pretty close, but very happy about the way our players developed and the way the team came together. A lot of those players got invaluable experience for the playoffs, so hopefully we can utilize that for next year though. All in all we’re pretty pleased in how we developed, which is hopefully being carried on to this season too.”
Fans can expect a similar style of hockey from the team during the 2017-18 season and the Broncos will again be aiming for a good run in the playoffs.
“We’re hopeful we’re going to get relatively the same results as we did last year too, but we’ll play the same style of hockey,” he said. “There’s always a couple of changes that we’ll keep up our sleeves for later on, but right now it’s pretty well we created an identity with our team last year in how we play the game and that’s the same type of style we want to play this year also.”
The Broncos started the 2017-18 season with a 5-2 win against the Blades in Saskatoon, Sept. 22. Swift Current team will play their home opener against the Kootenay ICE at the Innovation Credit Union i-plex, Oct. 7.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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