Revolution Place in Grande Prairie game. (John Watson, MyGrandePriarieNow Staff)
The Vice President of the Grande Prairie Storm is hopeful that the windfall from the recently announced online junior hockey 50/50 draw will provide some much-needed financial relief. However, Chris Millsap knows that it is a temporary solution.
“It’s something that is proven to be popular, particularly with the Edmonton Oilers and the World Junior Hockey Championships raising millions upon millions,” he says.
“It’s nice to be able to support junior hockey at a time like this without dipping into the pockets of the taxpayers, and we hope that the 50/50 is what does that,” he adds.
Announced Monday, the four 50/50 draws set for March will aim to help approximately 20 AJHL and WHL teams offset revenues lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our fanbase is our biggest source of income, but also having no fans affects our second biggest income, which is selling sponsorships in the rinks,”
Millsap says despite looking to get upwards of $150,000 from their share of the lottery, the team has already spent over $1 million in operating costs. He says when taken into consideration the trickle-down effect felt by the COVID-19 restrictions, it is devastating.
“Every bit helps, and we are going to put that money to good use when we do get it,” he adds.
Millsap suggests the team needs to put itself in a place to be able to allow fans back into the building in the fall at the latest. He says the current return to play guidelines are something they are taking with an abundance of seriousness.
“If we can sort of set the table in that regard, even if COVID-19 is a significant issue in the fall, our success here in the winter and spring may be able to allow us to have some fans in the building.”
Storm players, coaches, and support staff are currently self-isolating, with sights set at the beginning of March to open training camp.