Wildcats present cheque to city

Wildcats present cheque to city

By DAVID BRIGGS, Elliot Lake Standard

Release date: Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Photo credit: David Briggs, Elliot Lake Standard

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. — During Monday’s city council meeting, the Elliot Lake Wildcats Junior A hockey club presented the city a $20,000 cheque.

Wildcats board president Howard Hennessey presented the cheque to Mayor Dan Marchisella on behalf of the organization.

The payment is the second annual installment of five to repay the $100,000 loan the city provided the team in 2014.

At that time, the city had no junior ‘A’ team. The Bobcats had been dissolved as the owner, Ryan Leonard, formed a new team in Cochrane, and cut his ties with the city.

After months of debate, city council voted to provide a loan to get hockey back on the ice in Elliot Lake.

That vote came on June 9, 2014, and with the loan came some conditions to help guide the creation of a new city team.

A non-profit organization would be created to manage the team, which was a new model, as most teams in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) are owned and operated by the private sector.

Council would purchase a franchise from the NOJHL for a junior ‘A’ team at a cost of $40,000, to be held as receivable.

Council also approved a cash flow budget of $50,000 to aid in the start-up of the team.

This money, coupled with a previous investment of $5,000, plus another $5,000 to aid with the cost of creating a non-profit organization, tallied to the total loan of $100,000.

The first repayment of the loan was made on June 8, 2015.

Before presenting the cheque at Monday’s meeting, Hennessey updated council and the community about the team, emphasizing its role in the city.

He said the Wildcats are very active in raising money for charity in the city, and have contributed more than $10,000 to local organizations, including the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation, the Elliot Lake Emergency Food Bank, and the Lion’s Club Christmas Hamper.

They also contributed to autism charities, and helped to support Elliot Lake Olympic athlete Korey Jarvis during his bid for a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

In addition, Hennessey highlighted the fact that during its first two years, the team has finished no less than second place in the Western division.

The team is also amongst the top four in attendance records within the NOJHL.

He then informed council that the economic impact of having the team in Elliot Lake is $1,381,977.32. Much of this money comes to the city in the form of room nights at the hotel, with an estimated 49% being spent on lodging.

Hennessey closed his presentation by thanking “all of the dedicated fans who come out to support the Wildcats.”

Councillor Scot Reinhardt congratulated Hennessey “on surviving in a very tough business. Hockey is very dependent on the ebb and flow of fans and a lot of other factors, so good job there. I wish you continued success.”

He was concerned, however, that the Wildcats’ board didn’t contain any city council members. He said when the previous council agreed to provide the loan to the team, there was also a caveat made that two councillors would sit on the board, “to ensure proper oversight.”

He then requested that two members be added to the board “as soon as possible.”

Hennessey explained that “I would be more than happy to discuss this with yourself, and any other members of council who would like to, and we can set up an appointment to do that.”

Reinhardt added that he felt it best if the finance and administration committee “set up a formal” meeting so as to have it “on the agenda of an existing committee.”

“Our team is financially very healthy,” Hennessey said, “to set any concerns aside.”

“We are one of the most secure teams in the entire league, and we are one of the most respected teams in the entire league,” Hennessey added.