Hockey Costs

Voodoo Owners Clarify Powassan Council Over Inaccurate Claims

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Jim Bruce, co-owner and president of the Powassan Voodoos, set the record straight on inaccurate statements made by Powassan board members regarding the Junior A hockey team.

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Bruce appeared at the Powassan City Council meeting on Tuesday with co-owner and treasurer Ray Seguin to clarify council statements made earlier when council members were discussing a new contract with the Voodoos.

The Voodoos have been in Powassan since 2014 and this is the third contract the team has signed with the municipality.

Bruce said that in all that time, only one change was made to the contract.

However, the latest round of talks has seen some council members propose major changes to the deal.

Bruce told the board he was “unsure of the reason for changing the lease” and immediately dispelled the perception that Voodoos are a money-making operation.

In fact, Bruce said the exact opposite was true and he’s told the board since joining Powassan in 2014 that the Voodoos have suffered a shortfall every season.

He added that as a non-profit organization, it’s the team owners who make up the shortfall.

During council’s debate in June, when negotiating the contract, a suggestion had been made for council to consider a clause whereby the municipality would get a portion of the revenue the Voodoos received from hockey billboards at the Powassan Sportsplex.

This didn’t sit well with Bruce, who said that despite all the revenue generated, the Voodoos are lucky if they can break even.

He told the board that at the start of a season owners know they will lose money, but the hope is that the loss “won’t be too much”.

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Bruce said the owners have invested as much in the Voodoos as they do because they love being part of a hockey organization and adds that the team “is great for the community as well.”

Bruce then presented numbers that financially indicate how beneficial voodoo has been to the community.

Since 2014, the Voodoos have paid the municipality nearly $150,000 in ice fees.

There was no season in 2021 and the 2020 season was cut short due to COVID.

Bruce added that the presence of the Voodoos also helps Powassan Minor Hockey with the 50-50 draw.

“We’re not taking anything,” Bruce said of the draws.

“Half goes to the winner and the other half goes to Powassan Minor Hockey.”

Bruce said that when it comes to concession sales at Voodoos hockey games, the money stays with the operator of the concession booth.

“We don’t take concession money,” he said.

Bruce said that over the years the Voodoos have been among the top junior “A” teams across Canada, which means the municipality gets “a very good name in the hockey world in Canada.”

Bruce said comments made about the team at previous board meetings cast a negative light on the owners.

“The comments made it seem like we were these rich, greedy guys running a hockey team,” he said.

“We are definitely not greedy. . . and if we were rich, we probably wouldn’t have a Junior A hockey team. If you’re going to make public statements, I’d like people to make accurate statements. »

Bruce repeated his earlier statement that the owners think Voodoos are good for Powassan and added “we love it here”.

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In his closing remarks, Bruce challenged the board members.

He said that if each council member purchased a pair of season tickets, he would personally donate $5,000 out of his own pocket towards the cost of opening the arena.

A pair of subscriptions cost $750, meaning the Voodoos would collect $3,500 from the five-member board.

But Bruce made his offer very clear.

Each board member was required to purchase a pair of season passes so they could contribute $5,000 to cover arena costs.
He said council members could donate the tickets if they weren’t hockey fans.

Mayor Peter McIsaac and Council. Dave Britton has committed to purchasing two sets of subscriptions.

This leaves advisers Markus Wand, Randy Hall, and Debbie Piekarski to accept Bruce on his offer.

The season starts on September 8.

For his part, Piekarski told Bruce that the board had no intention of making voodoo feel unwanted when the contract was openly discussed.

In those earlier discussions, Piekarski and Hall pushed for more revenue collection in the new contract.

Hall told Bruce “everyone enjoys voodoo and we think it’s good for the community as well.”

“It’s unfortunate that a number of events led you to believe that voodoo was being targeted,” Hall said.

“I don’t believe that’s the case . . . but I apologize if it looks like we’re singling out voodoo. That certainly wasn’t the intention.”

Hall added that he appreciated Bruce’s appearance before the board to clarify the facts and wished the team well in the upcoming season and hoped they could go all the way to the championships.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works at the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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