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Bombers clear six-figure profit during successful season, restocks team board

The Bombers’ finances are in order, the team's board is full and the club, on- and off-ice, appears to be in a good spot.
S13 Bombers 4
Knuckles the Moose and Jamie "Poopsie" Webber share a moment before overtime.

The Bombers’ finances are in order and the team, on- and off-ice, appears to be on the right track.

The club held its annual general meeting July 6, including reports from team staff and executive members and two elections for board members.

On the ice, the Bombers came closer to snapping the team’s title drought than ever before, making the league finals for the third time in recent years, but were eventually eliminated by the eventual champions Estevan on the road in a heartbreaking Game 7 loss. The Bombers will seek to exorcise those demons and snap the team’s title drought - which will hit 30 years by the time the team next plays for the title - this coming season. April 20, 2023 - a date which should fall during this year’s finals, if previous years are any indication - will mark 30 years since the Bombers won their last championship in a Game 7 triumph over Melville in 1993.

This past season was not without its challenges. Frequent injuries meant the Bombers played exactly one game with their full-strength lineup all season and the team bellyflopped over the season finish line, going 3-9 in the last month of the regular season and dropping from third in the league to fifth, losing home ice advantage.

Seeking to find any edge possible, head coach and general manager Mike Reagan said he got in touch with one of his coaching mentors - Gardiner MacDougall, the long-time coach of the Univ. of New Brunswick Reds, multiple-time national Canadian university champion. MacDougall would, not long after Reagan got in touch, be named as the head coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, who he would coach to a Memorial Cup championship despite only coaching a handful of games with the club.

When Reagan asked MacDougall for advice on how to rally his team, the old sage offered one piece of advice.

“He's probably the best coach I've ever been around and kind of my mentor, a guy that I look up to him and talk to quite a bit about our situation. I said, ‘Gardiner, what do we do?’” Reagan said.

“He told me to get the guys to all write down their stats and what they did during the regular season on a piece of paper, what it meant, how their season was and all that. They all did that and we put a metal bin in the centre of the ice. We asked a couple guys ‘How was your season?’ and some guys answered. We’d go ‘That’s great, that’s a great regular season. What does it f***ing mean now?' They said, ‘absolutely nothing,’ and they’d throw their paper in the bin.”

Once all the players had thrown their papers in the bin (and once an issue or two of The Reminder detailing the team’s woes was thrown in as kindling) the pile was lit on fire at centre ice of the Whitney Forum. Call it theatre, call it antics, but it was effective in the end. After that cleansing rite, the Bombers won two playoff series against higher-ranked teams, came painfully close to winning a third and a title and made it into the Centennial Cup, where the club was eliminated in double overtime by the eventual national finalists.

“I remember when we beat Battlefords, I called him [MacDougall] up and said, ‘everything you told me worked, Gardiner. You got anything else for us?” said Reagan.

“He said it’s something he’d done in the past - he’s a magician when it comes to that kind of thing.”

 

Financials

Despite periods of crowd restrictions for games and occasional off-ice setbacks beyond the Bombers’ control, the team not only cleared a profit this past season, but finished the season well in the black.

According to unaudited financial records shared to attendees at the meeting, the Bombers cleared over a million dollars of overall revenue last year, with just over $848,000 in expenses. The records, as presented, show the Bombers finished the season with a net income well into the six-digit range - in total, a profit of $162,131.10, if all numbers prove accurate.

“It was a very successful year on the ice,” said team treasurer Janice Slipp when presenting the team’s financial report.

“It’s nice to be in the financial position we’re in right now, but we certainly don’t want to rest on our laurels. It’s a constant fight, a struggle, and we have to continue doing our raffles, continue trying to get corporate sponsorship, continue to do all that stuff that helps put this team on the ice.”

The club cleared almost $300,000 in total money from advertising and almost cleared another $250,000 in ticket sales throughout the season, more than half of which came from revenue from playoff tickets alone. The Bombers also received just under $200,000 in what were labelled “revenue projects”, which included COVID-19 relief funding received by the team earlier in the pandemic, donations from team sponsors toward a new score clock at the Whitney Forum, other assorted donations and player development fees acquired in trades.

The COVID-19 relief funding, Slipp said, came in the form of two tranches paid out to the club during the pandemic in the form of a loan. That loan has not been fully paid back yet, but the team plans to have it paid in full by the end of next season, Slipp said.

The Bombers’ profit margin may even grow further in time, as some of the travel expenses incurred by the team - around $150,000 in total - will be paid back by Hockey Canada, as those expenses came as a result of taking part in the Centennial Cup.

 

Board spots

Several seats on the Bombers’ board were up for nomination during the meeting, with five people selected for two-year terms, two for one-year terms and a pair of executive spots also made available.

First, the Bombers sought a new vice-president of the board. Two board members for this past season - Eldred Dicks and Adam Ricard - each showed interest and were nominated by people in attendance. Dicks would end up getting the seat, with Ricard not physically at the meeting and sending a letter in advance declaring he had interest in rejoining the board, but only mentioning a standard board seat, not explicitly stating interest in the VP spot, according to Bomber president Travis Rideout. As a result, Dicks was named to the role by acclamation and the meeting moved on.

The team’s treasurer role was quickly filled by incumbent Slipp - she was the only person nominated for the role, being named back to the spot in less than two minutes.

An unprecedented level of interest came in for the two-year board seats, with no fewer than 10 people being nominated and nine able to allow their names to stand, leading to a vote amongst attendees to see who’d make the cut.

On that secret ballot, people in attendance had the chance to decide between Hollie Babcock, Allison Cooper, Damian Dominey, Jordy Dumenko, Ricard, Angie Simpson, Donovan Smith, Jamie Szocs and Rachel Wright to see who would stay on the board for two seasons. In the end, the two-year seats would go to Babcock, Cooper, Dominey, Dumenko and Wright.

The competition for the two remaining one-year seats was almost as fierce - all four candidates who were not selected for two-year spots (Ricard, Smith, Simpson and Szocs) were joined by Rob Simon, who was not at the meeting but who had submitted a letter declaring he had interest in a seat.

After another vote, the two board seats remaining went to Ricard and Simon.

They will be joined by three people who entered the board last year for two-year seats who are now entering their second year in those roles - Kelly Mansell, Matt Morrison and Billy Williamson now all enter their second years and will sit on the team’s board with the newly-appointed members.