Sunday, December 11, 2016

Nothing new on sale of Ice; options continue to be explored

It sounds like there isn’t anything new in regards to a possible sale of the Kootenay Ice. Jeff Chynoweth, the president and general manager of the Ice, told Regan Bartel, the veteran radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, on Saturday that “we haven’t come to an agreement with anyone.”
The Ice is owned by the Chynoweth family — Linda Chynoweth and her two sons, Jeff and Dean. The
franchise has been for sale since 2012.
“My mom would like to sell the team,” Jeff told Bartel. “She’s 73 years old. As much as the Western Hockey League has been great to her and our family, she just doesn’t want to be an owner anymore.”
But, Chynoweth said, there is “nothing yet.”
“We continue to work . . . I work hand in hand with (WHL commissioner) Ron Robison,” he said. “We’ve worked tirelessly the last couple of years trying to find some local groups to put something together here. Unfortunately, it hasn’t come to fruition yet. You never say never, but we’ll continue to look at all options.”
At this point, the Ice is struggling to get into the playoff picture and attendance is going the wrong way. Chynoweth agreed that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.
“No. . . . we’ve had seven games under 1,600. We’re averaging under 1,700 people a night,” Chynoweth said. “To put that in perspective, when Western Financial Place opened in 2000-01, we averaged over 3,600. It’s not trending in the right direction.
“I don’t know what the answer is. I just know that it’s getting more and more difficult to make ends meet.”
Chynoweth also admitted “I’m just tired. It needs a change . . . I would like it to stay here because it’s
been great for my family for a lot of years. It’s going to take a lot of work and time. . . .”
As for the search for new ownership, Chynoweth outlined the situation this way:
“You have to find someone who understands major junior hockey. Most people who buy sports businesses are very successful businessmen, and if they ran their businesses the way sports teams do, they wouldn’t be as successful as they are. . . . I look at the Prince George Cougars structure, I look at the Regina Pats structure . . . two great additions to our ownership group in the league. That’s the type of thing we need here. . . . I’ve been here long enough. I’m stale. It needs a fresh outlook.”
Once the franchise is sold, whenever that may be, Chynoweth told Bartel that he wants to stay involved in the WHL.
“It’s been great to my family — my dad, my brother and myself — for a lot of years. It’s my 32nd year in league. I love it. I love the people. I love the teams. . . . this is what makes our game so great. I just don’t want to be an owner anymore. I do want to stay involved . . . hopefully, as a general manager.
“I also want to try to get our franchise back to where we were. We were fortunate to be on the top . . . for a number of years. We were very successful. We have to work our way back up and it takes time and I’d like to be a part of that.”
The complete interview, which runs about 10 minutes, is right here.

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