The Prince Albert Raiders enjoyed financial success during the 2021-22 season, but there is some rocky ground ahead for the WHL club.
The Raiders posted a profit of $152,191 for last season. That’s a significant increase over the $25,891 profit reported the season before.
Board members and club employees credited Prince Albert hockey fans for the financial success.
“I think management and the board were very pleased at the amount of ticketing revenue that was generated last year,” treasurer Brent Spademan said during the Raider AGM on Wednesday. “We felt that there was a lot of excitement for people to get back into the building and watch Raider hockey.”
While the Raiders consider the season to be a financial success, club president Gord Broda said they weren’t certain how things would play out when the WHL season started last year.
Broda said they were still concerned about late cancellations and long-term shutdowns due to COVID-19. To get an entire season of hockey in with only a few small disruptions was a relief.
“We were still under the threat of the pandemic and we were not sure if more restrictions could be imposed, if fans were actually comfortable returning to larger gatherings, and the move in general regarding sponsorship and support, with all of us coming off the struggles caused by the pandemic,” Broda said during the meeting. “The league, and all of us as individual teams, worked hard to plan and prepare for whatever might get thrown at us as the season unfolded.”
Broda thanked the Raiders off-ice staff for helping the club through two difficult years. However, like Spademan, he said the fans were the primary reason the club enjoyed success.
“We are so fortunate as an organization to have the strong community support that is behind us, and all of this has resulted in positive financial results,” he said. “As a community club, we are always very focused on our financial viability, and it is a pleasure to report positive financial results again this year.”
Raiders business manager Mike Scissons wasn’t surprised Prince Albert resident came back in droves for the 2021-22 season. The season before, Raider season ticket holders donated more than $100,000 to the club, even though all of the games were played in the Regina bubble.
After witnessing that level of support for a team that couldn’t play any home games, Scissons wasn’t shocked when fans filled the Art Hauser Centre the following season.
“It’s something that I’ll never forget in any time of business in my life,” Scissons said the outpouring in financial support during the bubble season.
“That’s the kind of level of dedication that’s just, and it might sound corny to say, just not seen anywhere. It’s not seen anywhere in the Western Hockey League or in other sports, and that continued this year.
“When they (the fans) got the opportunity to come back into the building and watch the Raiders play live on Art Hauser Centre ice, they relished the opportunity to do it. They came back, and we’re happy because of that.”
However, the club’s financial success last season doesn’t mean they won’t face additional financial challenges this year. Out-of-conference play returns to the WHL this year, meaning the Raiders will embark on a lengthy road trip to British Columbia in January.
The club will have to deal with increased fuel cost and rising inflation. They’ll also have to start charging PST on some items starting Oct. 1.
Scissons told reporters he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t concerned about those challenges, but added that it won’t result in a jump in ticket prices.
“We’ve tried to keep our prices pretty much identical to where they were last year,” he said. “There’s obviously going to be some increases because of that PST where we have to throw it on some things, but other than that, we’re hoping we’ll be the choice of people with their entertainment dollar.”
Overall, the Prince Albert Raiders brought in $2,707,357 in revenue last season, while recording $2,642,361 in expenses. However, they also received $71,504 in grant revenue, and $15,691 due to changes in the player education liability estimate.