2020 will be an unforgettable year for many, but the consequences will be felt for many years by the Swift Current Broncos after an announced a loss of $791,000 at the Annual General Meeting on Sept. 29.
On the ice, the Broncos finished last with a 10-48-2-3 record, but the news was even more devastating financially as ticket sales dropped 24 percent from the previous season. Combine smaller crowds with considerable financial blows from a global pandemic and the unforeseen expense of a Canadian Hockey League wide legal settlement and the financial outlook became much darker.
The franchise also had to make a significant accounting adjustment to the education scholarship liability due to increased use over the last three years. The Broncos reported a record number of players supported and tuition paid as they dished out over $161,000 towards the education of 25 former players.
The average paid attendance last season was 1,951, a considerable drop from 2,377 the previous season. The season ticket holder number also plummeted to 1,673 from 2,018 at the end of 2018-19.
“We’re all in a situation, and we’re not the only team, it’s a fight to survive,” said Chairman of Board, Trent McCleary. “That’s where we need this community’s support. We need the fans… The numbers aren’t good right now and it’s like that for a lot of teams and a lot of sports. We’re just waiting to hopefully get through this pandemic and hopefully we’ll be able to get back on the ice as soon as possible.”
McCleary said it will take years to recover from the financial loss of the 2019-20 fiscal year.
“It’s like how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. We don’t think we have to make this up in one year because the 2020-21 season, we haven’t even started it yet and look at what it looks like. So there’s lots of challenges, lots of things that are going to challenge us as an organization, as a community. But we’re not the only ones, you look at baseball, you look at soccer, you look at everything.”
The start of the 2020-21 season has already been pushed back to December.
“We’re in a good position to survive. After that we want to put some good teams on the ice, put fans in the stands, butts in the seats. We think that when we’re allowed to go back there’ll be a pent up demand for live entertainment. That’s what we’re really hoping for and we hope to do it as soon as possible, as soon as we get approval from the health authorities and the government we’ll be doing whatever we can to continue hockey,” said McCleary.