Instead of being out on the ice, the Elmira Sugar Kings have seen their season put on ice due to the pandemic.
Originally hoping to see hockey return by December 2, the junior B team is now looking to see if the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s plan for a January 15 start comes to pass. And even if a season does come to pass, things will look a whole lot different, most noticeably a lack of fans in the seats.
The team has managed to hold some practices, but even those sessions have been cut back due the region’s move to “red” on the provincial scale, forcing more restrictions on the arena.
While the Kings are seeing lower costs, revenues have been reduced to essentially zero. Bridging that gap was the impetus for a new fundraising effort launched this week. The team is selling T-shirts right through Christmas.
“We desperately need to raise money to help pay for costs and do all the other things that we need to do to help keep our team afloat. So, that was one of the ideas the executive came up with, and a good one,” Jeff Snyder, the team’s director of hockey operations, said of the project.
“Hopefully we can raise some money through our fans to help keep us going here. Our goal is to start the season January 15, but that’ll be without fans. So, we don’t have that revenue coming in that we would normally have from our fans, which is a big, big chunk of revenue for us. We are trying to come up with other ideas to raise money to keep the team alive here, and I think the T-shirt fundraiser is a great idea.”
This is the first time something like this has been done by the team. Usually, fans are able to purchase souvenirs and other merchandize, however, with no one able to watch the game, those items probably will not be up for sale.
The fundraiser started Tuesday and will run until December 25. Shirts are available for $25.
The T-shirts were designed and produced by Jeremy Weber, owner of PK Sportswear. Weber says he has been a supplier to the Kings for a few years now.
What he has come out with for the fundraiser is different than anything else before, he says, and there are three different styles to suit everyone’s needs.
“I guess the design on these [is] going to be different than anything that we’ve offered elsewhere, like it has the standard vintage that they’ve used in the middle but then the slogan [is] a little bit more to do with supporting the local team, which is not something that’s part of the regular spirit wear that we’ve been offering,” said Weber.
He says there are designs for men, women and youths, offering fans the chance to get something that fits them best.
Weber says there is a $6,000 fundraising goal that can be tracked on the sale website.
Moving through the next little while, no matter what happens with the team’s start date, Snyder says everyone in the organization is working hard to ensure there is a hockey season for the Sugar Kings.
“I think that we’re doing everything in our power to have a hockey season for players. A lot of it is out of our hands. We’re in the red zone now in our region, so we wouldn’t be able to start under these circumstances, because you’re only allowed to have 10 players on the ice. But we are committed to having a season, when we can safely do that for players and our staff,” he said.