KAMLOOPS — The Kamloops Blazers haven’t been a very good hockey team for quite awhile but there’s no question they’ve been great community boosters and have provided the city with a lot of entertainment.
If it weren’t for the Blazers, we wouldn’t have the arena that has hosted so many different kinds of events — sports and otherwise, such as exhibitions, conventions and concerts including the likes of Bob Dylan, Shania Twain and Gordon Lightfoot.
So it’s hard to begrudge the smokin’ deal the organization got on upgrades to the Sandman Centre. Though the Blazers will pay the full cost — estimated at $292,000 — the hockey club will retain all of the proceeds from the annual purchase of new loge suites for the first six years.
The City, on the other hand, will get the proceeds from food and beverage sales from the loges during that time, after which it will get another $10,000 a year from loge revenues as well.
Coun. Denis Walsh likes the concept but opposed the deal because he thinks the City didn’t negotiate hard enough. He calculates the payback time for the Blazers is only three years and believes the City’s eventual 10 per-cent share isn’t enough.
But on the other side of the argument, the area in the upper gondola section where the 16 new loge suites will be built has weak ticket demand, and the new facilities won’t subtract anything from total seating. The changes will bring in more food and beverage money overall.
As community and protective services director Byron McCorkell said, the key to the success of the Sandman Centre is food and beverages, bums in seats, and the hockey team. As he put it, “The building is doing very, very well thanks to the Blazers.”
And, by the way, additional loge suites have been contemplated since the arena was built 26 years ago but always put off due to cost.
Now the Blazers want to put up the money to get it done, so good on ‘em.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.