Interview with Broncos Director of Business Operations Dianne Sletten (Download)
Interview with Chairman Liam Choo-Foo (Download)
Interview with Coach/GM Mark Lamb (Download)
After all the concern about the future of the franchise at this time last season, I’m very happy to tell you that things are certainly a lot rosier this year. The bottom line for the Broncos from one season to the next was an over $200,000 improvement. That’s spectacular improvement for a franchise operating with a budget of just under $1.7 million dollars. It’s especially impressive given the fact that the team missed the playoffs last season and didn’t benefit from any post-season gates.
That doesn’t mean everything is perfect. There were still on average 600 empty seats per game and expenses continue to go up every year. They grew by 6.6% last season and it’s only getting tougher to compete with the money being spent by some of the bigger teams. There is a lot of work to do on all sides of the operation and everyone involved knows that. You keep hearing the words “premier franchise” because the Broncos don’t want to just survive, they want to thrive, and that’s what they are aiming to do in the longer term.
With that said, congratulations to everyone involved from the board, to management, staff and volunteers. I’m around the organization enough to know how hard everyone involved works. Anyone on the staff in this organization does enough work for several people. They put in the kind of hours most people would never be willing to put in, and they absolutely don’t do it to get rich. This is a labour of love and passion. I’m really glad to see all that hard work pay off with some serious progress from one year to the next.
So for the people who e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago to ask whether or not it was true that the Broncos were on their last legs financially I can only say… the reports of their death were greatly exaggerated. Don’t believe everything you read.
Here is my Swift Current Online article:
A massive turnaround for the Swift Current Broncos off the ice.
They went from a $197,226 dollar loss in 2010-11 to a $4,238 dollar profit in 2011-12.
“It feels really good,” said Broncos Chairman of the Board Liam Choo-Foo. “We’re on the right side of the ledger, but we’re not nearly as far on that side as we intend to be in the future. It certainly shows we’re on the right path… and I think it speaks to how hard our staff have worked. The focus we’ve had with our strategic plan and our operational plan has got people pulling the oars in the same direction. This is only the start.”
According to the report at the Broncos Annual General Meeting, expenses were up 6.6% to $1,678,999 in 2011-12. That includes a 31% increase in education costs.
The Broncos brought in $714,935 from ticket sales and $968,302 from other income. The biggest increases in revenue came from the addition of World Junior Hockey Championship money from Hockey Canada, a 68% increase in NHL draft money, 38% increase in money from other promotions, 20% increase in advertising revenue and 3.3% increase in ticket sale revenue.
“I think it proves that the plan the board and management from last year set in place is working,” said Director of Business Operations Dianne Sletten. “The whole organization has bought into this strategy to really become a premier franchise, they’re looking for ways to enhance things and to provide a better game day experience, to have a better product on the ice. The changes that have been made over the last year and a half really are… making a difference.”
The organization isn’t satisfied with the slight profit. They are focused on finding a way to boost ticket sales from an average of 2204 per game last season.
“We’ve got 2800 spots that we can fill,” Sletten. “When you look at 600 more people over a 36 game period that’s a huge chunk of money… I think we have a lot of work to do in promoting the different ticketing options that we have… We need to work on getting more people from the rural region into the games and going out to Gull Lake and Maple Creek was huge for us.”
The Broncos are even working with Maple Creek on the idea of bringing a bus in for some future games.
Season ticket sales are up slightly from this point last year, although they are still under 1400 at last count. The Broncos drew over 2600 fans for their home opener on Saturday.
“We want to make the game day experience better,” said Head Coach and General Manager Mark Lamb. “It’s not all about wins and losses. Our goal is to have a championship caliber team here at some point, but you just don’t do that overnight… I know a good hockey team will make the business a lot better, but you can’t just depend on the hockey team. You have to get out in the community, you have to get support, you have to work with a lot of people to get the right atmosphere.”
The single biggest boost to the team’s financial fortune was $124,400 in WHL related income. That figure includes revenue from the World Junior Hockey Championship. This season they won’t have World Junior money, but can expect a share of Memorial Cup money from Saskatoon’s turn hosting the tournament. They didn’t have any special money to help deal with the near $200,000 loss in 2010-11.
“In our vision of being a premier franchise and being a sustainable franchise we have to build the capacity so that those kinds of things do not cripple us and do not hold us back,” Choo-Foo said. “We need to be healthy enough as an organization in all the other facets so that does not become an obstacle we can’t overcome.”
Another significant source of growing revenue for the Broncos is on the event management side. Their profit from the SCB Event Management PBR event was up 71% to $64,371. The Joe Sakic Hall of Fame banquet in 2011 brought in $28,332 or over 200% more income than the 2010 banquet. Other promotions in general grew from $111,681 in 2010-11 to $150,380 last season. The event management side continues to grow with concerts like the Autumn Fun Fest and the home opener after-party with Trooper.
“We’ve done some restructuring in the office to have someone full-time in charge of those activities and to explore new ideas,” Sletten said. “I think if we could develop three really good ones that we could really work to expand and grow that would be ideal… I also think that Swift Current and the southwest are looking for new opportunities to have some entertainment value.”
Some other notes from the financial report include the continued growth of the hockey school as revenue was up over 100% to $7,192. The significant drop in man-games lost to injury from one season to the next dropped medical expenses by 64%. Salaries and benefits were up nearly 5% to $578,763.
The small profit in 2011-12 brought the team’s net assets to $490,407.
The membership of the Broncos AGM voted to open the door to a new membership sale. There hasn’t been an option to purchase Bronco memberships since the team was brought back to Swift Current 26 years ago. Staff is now working on details and pricing options for a future membership sale. There are currently 106 active Bronco memberships.
On the ice, the Broncos host Regina on Wednesday night, Brandon on Friday and Saskatoon on Saturday. You can hear all the action on The Eagle 94.1 FM with our broadcasts of The New Pioneer Co-op Broncos Hockey.