Members of the East Kootenay business community are ready for a new ICE age.
— Greg Fettes (@greg_fettes) June 8, 2017
It was an enthusiastic full house at the Prestige Hotel in Cranbrook Thursday night as the new owners of the Kootenay ICE held the Corporate Kickoff portion of their “Drive to 25”, an effort to sell 2,500 season tickets before the 2017/18 campaign.
Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Hull says the relationship between the business community and the previous owners seemed strained.
He believes that has changed.
Hull proposes if you would have held an event like this last year, under the previous ownership, it would have likely been a lonely affair.
However, standing outside the buzzing conference centre, Hull suggests there’s an excitement in the air.
The Chamber head says the reality is the WHL franchise is incredibly important to the City of Cranbrook and surrounding area.
Hull explains it’s not only about the millions of dollars the club injects into the local economy, but it’s a key quality of life indicator when attracting professionals to town.
He explains the last thing we want is for people to arrive in Cranbrook and say, “there’s nothing to do here.”
Hull says quality of life indicators are a major focus for the Cranbrook Chamber and they could be the difference between landing a top professional at a local business or not.
He suggests as part of the fabric of our community we need sports, entertainment and culture and the Kootenay ICE are a major piece to that puzzle.
President and CEO of Rocky Mountain Diesel and Rocky Mountain Collision Chris Thom admits it wasn’t easy to support the organization during the previous ownership.
However Thom, who has had ICE season tickets since the team came to Cranbrook in 1997, suggests he hasn’t seen this level of excitement toward the organization in years.
Thom points to the onslaught of exciting news out of the organization since new owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell took over the club May 1st, including the hiring of new coaches James Patrick and Jon Klemm.
Thom seemed troubled with the thought after being asked what it would mean to the local economy if the ICE were to leave the area.
He says obviously you lose the millions of dollars of spending, but it would result in an approximate $5,000-$10,000 annual increase in his commercial property taxes.
Thom says taking that off the bottom line of a small business could be the difference between making it and breaking it.
Nonetheless, looking toward the future, the local CEO says it seems the new owners want to be engaged with not only the business community but the entire East Kootenay community.
Thom suggests Thursday marked the beginning of something very special.
The new owners announced during the Corporate Kickoff they have sold all the suites in Western Financial Place for the upcoming season.
The club runners outlined corporate partnership deals such as price freezes for multi year agreements and team signing sessions for merchandise.
Owner and Governor Greg Fettes also debuted the new away jersey for the upcoming season.
– Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Hull
– President and CEO of Rocky Mountain Diesel and Rocky Mountain Collision Chris Thom