The Clippers will be staying in Nanaimo as a community-owned hockey club.
The B.C. Hockey League franchise announced Monday morning it will create the Nanaimo Clippers Hockey Society.
“We’re obviously very happy and excited to announce that the Clippers are staying in Nanaimo,” said David LeNeveu, team president.
Keeping the Clippers in the Harbour City involved a group of individuals contributing at least $50,000 each to allow the society to purchase a portion of the hockey club. There was sufficient commitment to satisfy the current ownership group.
“The goal is to have the society own the entire club free and clear, so as funding comes in, a portion of those funds will be used to buy out the current ownership,” LeNeveu said.
That timeline, he said, will depend on community support. As soon as the society is legally set up, a fundraising drive will begin, said Andrea Trepanier, a Clippers investor who will head up business operations.
“Moving forward we’re going to need more community support and we’re going to need some corporate partners to step up and help us out in a bigger way,” she said.
The Clippers will immediately increase their budget for the coming season to add more staff; Trepanier said it will take higher expenses to boost revenues. She noted that the Clippers are basing their society model on the experience of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, who recently ran a similar campaign and raised $300,000.
LeNeveu said now that the Clippers are locally owned, he believes the community and its hockey fans will be more supportive of the home team.
“When the people of the community own the team, they’re going to support the team and they’re going to reach out to other members of the community to help support this team,” he said. “It’s the hardest decision that’s going to require the most work and the most people that we’re going to call on for help; however, this is what’s going to be successful in this community.”