The long-awaited sale of the Kootenay ICE brings comfort to the Western Hockey League.
This from league Commissioner Ron Robison after the Board of Governors unanimously approved the transfer of ownership Thursday.
The decision allowed the Chynoweth family, who owned the ICE since 1995, to deal the franchise to Winnipeg entrepreneur Greg Fettes and hockey executive Matt Cockell.
Robison says there’s no question they were looking for new ownership who wanted to keep the organization in Cranbrook and hopefully inject some new energy into the team and community.
He says now its a question of how people respond and hopefully that translates into approved attendance at ICE games.
Robison says the league is looking forward to collaborating with new partners on finding solutions for a “challenging” market in Cranbrook.
He expects the new operators to work hard with the community to provide a new experience for fans, although the Commissioner wouldn’t shed light on any specific plans from Fettes and Cockell.
Robison says ultimately it is up to fans and residents to get attendance up to the level the league needs to see for the ICE to be viable.
Robison notes, on average, approximately 1,700 seats were filled each game at Western Financial Place last season and that number needs to jump between 2,500-3,000.
Robison wouldn’t comment on what Fettes and Cockell’s longterm plans are for the ICE and if the organization will remain in the Key City.
Fettes is the founder of 24-7 Intouch, a global customer service outsourcing company with over 8000 employees in 14 sites around the world.
Cockell, who is a three-year veteran of the WHL, previously served as Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for True North Sports and Entertainment and also has over 17 years of experience with Hockey Canada.
It is expected Cockell will relocate his family to Cranbrook, and take over the role of President and General Manager.
Robison says the league is very excited with the qualifications Cockell brings to the table as he has a great marketing and business sense after working with the Winnipeg Jets.
– Josh Hoffman
– WHL Commissioner Ron Robison