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March '12

Tuesday 28 Feb. 2012

Kitchener Rangers



Steve Bienkowski

1996 was a turning point in the history of the club. Cumulative losses over the previous  three years were half a million dollars. It had taken thirty years since the franchise was moved to Kitchener from Guelph to build the reserves to $1.2 million. Only three years to reduce them to $600,000.


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The board of directors realized things had to change. They had to become less of a club and more of a business, with a better organization on and off the ice.

An operational revue determined that there was no clear direction, no business plan, no agreement as to what type of business they were in. Revenues were 50% of those of the top teams in the league, hindered by a weak brand with part time resources, and that expenses could only rise.
They set about to rebuild the franchise, determining that they were an entertainment business that should be winning champion-ships, developing potential NHL players, and supporting the community which supported them.


The recognized weaknesses were  under-estimating the importance of scouting; hiring based on pay, rather than skill; and missing the importance of  networks in the business.
In the first 33 years the club was operated by volunteers/directors with about 2.5 hockey and one business staff suport on the average.
Now, there are six full time hockey staff, six full time business staff,  and 1.8 full time administration staff. The scouting budget is in the top two in the OHL, with a full time head scout covering Ontario, Michigan, NY, NJ, PA, and Europe.

Senior management all have OHL/ University experience. The coaching staff have OHL, NCAA, or NHL experience, all are university graduates.
Player costs include room and board, education, travel, and scholarships which range from $30,000 to $75,000 each. The financial picture has changed.
   
1996
    Gate revenue            $490,000
               Other            $70,000
    Total                        $560,000

 2011
    Gate revenue        $3,100,000
            Other            $2,350,000
Total                          $5,450,000

Steve also explained the ownership structure of the organization, its relation-ship with the city and future expansion.

 

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