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HomeSportsHart AttackHARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Cougars take big financial hit) May 8th, 2020...

HARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Cougars take big financial hit) May 8th, 2020 EDITION 783

Prince George Cougars president and minority-owner John Pateman indicated during the team’s virtual town hall on Tuesday that the owners have a goal to get at least 1,500 more fans per game next season in order to break even.

“It’s been a struggle financially for the ownership group over the last several years,” said Pateman,

“We’ve obviously lost a lot of money. I would suggest, last season, we were probably 1,500 fans short of paying all our bills per game, that’s without making the playoffs.”

The Cougars have not announced how much money the owners lost in 2019-20 but based on Pateman’s comments it is not hard to figure out.

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The team plays 34 home games and last season the average home attendance was 2,433 at CN Centre, the lowest figure since the EDGEPRO Sports and Entertainment group bought the team six years ago.

The Cougars would need close to 4,000 fans on average to reach that elusive break-even point.

Now let’s add this up.

The average ticket price for a game fluctuates based on various factors that include if you are a season ticket holder, where you sit and your age.

On the high side, let’s use $20 a ticket.

34 games at $20 a game = $680 x 1500 (more fans per game) = $1,020,000.

On the low side, let’s use $15 a ticket.

34 games at $15 a game = $510 x 1500 (more fans per game) = $765,000.

Based on Pateman’s claim the team needs 1,500 more fans a game just to balance the books, this by simple math translates to the fact the team is coming off a year where they lost anywhere from ¾ of a million dollars to one million dollars.

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Pateman was joined by Cougars coach/GM Mark Lamb and VP of Business Andy Beesley during the virtual town hall.

Beesley told Brendan Pawliw of there were quite a few questions surrounding the club’s business operations.

“A lot of fans are curious about the future of our team and that seems to be a consistent theme throughout the whole thing is how are we doing businesswise, both in the short term and the long term, how are the owners looking at this team and how it is positioned going forward in the future.”

Beesley admitted that attendance and the team’s on-ice performance were two of the burning questions asked.

“The whole goal of this town hall was just to share information with people and we really don’t have anything to hide and a lot of people are always concerned about the Cougars attendance numbers and the fact we have struggled on the ice for the last couple of years.”

On the hockey side, the Cougars have signed their first four picks (all in the top 26 overall) in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.

The question though is when will the team play its next game?

It is scheduled (as is normally the case to begin a new season) for September, but with physical distancing measures in place, the WHL may not be able to afford to start with limited or no fans in the stands.

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“We are looking at all kinds of different scenarios, we are planning for a season for sure and whether we have to do some mitigation factors or not such as how we do our seating in the arena or how to do our lineups, there is a tremendous amount of work being done behind the scenes,” stated Beesley.

Premier John Horgan announced on Wednesday that BC’s restart plan has been structured around 4 phases, with the province currently in the first phase.

The Cougars come under Phase 4 which does not have a timeline but could easily be well into the fall or in a worst-case scenario the winter or later.

Phase 4

To be determined

Conditional on at least one of the following; wide vaccination, “community” immunity, broad successful treatments:

  • Activities requiring large gatherings, such as:
    • Conventions
    • Live audience professional sports
    • Concerts
  • International tourism

Beesley says the Cougars sales staff has spoken to every one of their season ticket holders but adds “what we are not doing right now is asking people to put money down.”

Owning a sports team can be viewed as glamourous with lots of perks but on the other hand, there are lots of challenges, especially the ones which you can not control.

It is difficult enough to run all aspects of a team like the Cougars without a pandemic.

The team has preached to its fans for patience while trying to build a contender on the ice.

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Now that word “patience” comes up again but this time on the business side as going up against a virus may be their toughest opponent yet.



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In other words, you can hide but you can’t run.

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Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 the Goat radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to [email protected]



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