It’s been three weeks since a group of locals got together and pitched a business proposal to the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) that would tentatively keep the Olds Grizzlys alive for the upcoming season.
The caveat is that the Friends of the Grizzlys have until June 30 to off-load the team’s cool $300,000 debt and show the AJHL they’re starting with a clean slate.
Unlike a potential Edmonton investor – ready to front the cash to pay the Grizzlys’ bill, but wouldn’t guarantee they’d keep the team in town forever – the local group didn’t come to the table with their chequebook. Instead they said they would need to rely on the community to help raise the money over the next month, and that they would be revealing details about their business plan in the days to come.
Those days are long past now. Twenty days past. And short of a new email address and a clandestine wine and cheese event, there hasn’t been a public peep from the Friends of the Grizzlys. Who are the new owners anyways? How much money has been raised to date? How much still needs to be collected before the deadline? Is the group still relying on the involvement, time, effort and financial support of the community?
With the clock ticking, it’s time to start asking for answers.
Granted, the new ownership group isn’t obliged to share their vision, or their business plan, or the details of who has paid what amount of money to bail our hibernating hockey team out. It’s possible that the financial backing has already been raised, that the group’s initial pleas for community support were heeded and that the wine and cheese shindig was actually a celebratory get-together.
But after begging this town a month ago to come out and back the team; after choosing a group that didn’t have the cash, but had the will to keep the franchise in town; after claiming that the Grizzlys were still “on life support,” and that they’d be relying on the community to keep the plug from being pulled, this new ownership group would do well to be a little more transparent with where things are at.
Because if this new group comes out in 10 days’ time and announces that it doesn’t have the $300,000 the AJHL is expecting, the community might not rally again to help the people who were supposed to save the backs of the Grizzlys to begin with.
If the Friends of the Grizzlys want to stay friends of the community, then they are going to have to start telling people what their plans are, and quick.