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MJHL Teams Tackle Financial Challenges

By Derek Holtom
MJHL Web Correspondent

Turning a profit is never easy when running a junior A hockey team. There are a lot of factors teams have to deal with outside of what’s going on the ice.

Darren Piwniuk, Governor for the Selkirk Steelers, said staying in the black is a challenge, especially as costs continue to rise.

“The travel is the biggest thing for us,” said Piwniuk. “A road trip going up north probably costs us $12,000 to $15,000 for two games.”

And when something like the price of gas goes up, so does a team’s expenses.

But it’s not very easy for teams to simply pass that increase onto their fans. That’s where a lot of the challenge of running a junior A team comes from.

“We actually decreased our ticket prices to get more fans coming back to the game,” he said. “We are also looking at a lot of non-hockey fund-raisers. I think that’s where we have to go to meet our budgets.

“We find we’re pretty much maxed out in terms of what we can charge the customer.”

Despite the challenges, teams such as the Selkirk Steelers thrive and survive on the work of their volunteers, who definitely see a value in operating a junior A team in their community.

“I think a town needs an identity, and it needs that hockey team,” he said.  “But since the Winnipeg Jets came back, we’ve noticed it easier for some to sit at home and watch the $10 a month package to watch (the Jets on TV) than it is to come out in -35 C.

“But I think it’s important for a team to have a hockey team, and it’s up to us to find ways to around the rising costs.”

Kings success comes with price

The Dauphin Kings had an incredible season. They made it to the MJHL final. They placed second at the Western Canada Cup (an event they hosted), and made it all the way to the playoff round of the RBC Cup national championship.

Unfortunately, they also lost approximately $56,000 last season, according to numbers they released at their AGM and reported on by the local radio station.

Losing money in junior A hockey, unfortunately, is not all that uncommon. But a long playoff run can often times provide a team with a windfall to help offset those leaner years.

Running an MJHL team requires dedication, hard work and yes, a creativity.

Tractor lottos. Planting crops. Mega bingos and 50-50 raffles. Without these sorts of fund-raising efforts, teams would be hard pressed to meet financial needs.

Costs involved?  Fuel costs, billet fees, equipment, coaches – it all adds up. Fan support is critical to the future of all MJHL teams. Enjoy the game. Support the game.

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