The Alberni Valley Multiplex is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs prepare for unusual 2020-21 season

Questions remain about funding, fans in seats at the Alberni Valley Multiplex

With their first exhibition game only a few days away, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs still have more questions than answers when it comes to the 2020-21 season.

The BCHL has sent an application to the province, requesting 25 percent capacity in arenas. If the BCHL is not able to have fans in the stands this season, the league will rely on sponsorships, government support and player fees to fund the season, which starts Dec. 1.

At this point, said Bulldogs president David Michaud, the team is following the provincial health order that prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people.

“It feels like I’ve done two dozen budget scenarios,” he laughed.

Player fees are new to the BCHL, said Michaud. While some teams in the league do charge a “nominal fee” for their players, this has not been a league-wide approach before this year.

“It’s been a longstanding policy of the BCHL that teams do not charge a player fee,” Michaud said. “We offer players the chance to play for free. That’s been a huge mental barrier to get over this year.”

The team—and the league—has been erring on the side of caution when it comes to keeping the players safe, said Michaud.

“Keeping the players on the ice and on their development path was the foremost goal,” said Michaud. “If you’re 20 years old and you don’t have a scholarship yet, we want to give you that chance to get a scholarship.”

Michaud was part of the BCHL’s Return to Play Task Force that submitted a “detailed plan” to the province earlier this year in order to keep the teams on the ice. As part of this plan, the BCHL has partnered with PRIVIT—an online database to track medical information for athletes. This partnership will allow the league and teams to view daily COVID-19 screening information.

The team has also been working closely with City of Port Alberni staff to keep the Alberni Valley Multiplex clean and sanitized.

“Scott Crema, our athletic trainer, has been in constant contact with players to make sure they’re doing the right thing,” added Michaud. “Education is the big thing.”

The billet program is one thing that has not changed. Billets have been “a great source of pride” this year for the Bulldogs, said Michaud. Although some billet families have had to step back this year, due to immunocompromised households, Michaud said it was not difficult to find a place for every player.

“The billets have stepped up and rallied around our players,” he said. “The community really opened their arms to the players and welcomed them back.”

Despite community support, Michaud is expecting a negative impact on finances this year. The BCHL has reached out to the province for help with pandemic losses, but at this point has not received an answer.

READ MORE: BCHL asks province for help with pandemic losses

“So many of our corporate partners have been affected by this, as well,” Michaud said. “But with no game day revenue, sponsorships are crucial right now. We’re asking our local corporate partners to do what they can do. We’ve had some partners overwhelm us with their generosity. There are others who want to do that, but they have been negatively affected as well. We’re not going to take someone’s sign down just because they’re not able to give as much as they have in the past,” he added.

Overall, said Michaud, the Bulldogs are “optimistic” about their team this year. Players have been on the ice since Sept. 14 for an extended training camp, with 30 players competing for 25 roster positions. Pre-season play will kick off on Oct. 2 as the Bulldogs face the Nanaimo Clippers.

Fans will be able to watch the games live on Hockey TV, and local radio station 93.3 The Peak will still be broadcasting regular season games. The Bulldogs will also be posting “lots of content” on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), said Michaud, so that fans can follow along.

Season ticket holders who have already purchased their tickets will have an answer about refunds soon, Michaud said.

“We need some time to figure out how [the season] is going to play out,” said Michaud. “No fan is going to be left unhappy.”



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

David Michaud of Keycorp Sports and Entertainment is the president of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Just Posted

Painters Jim Tulip, Doug Mackenzie and Gary Henslowe were painting the exterior of the Duncan Butcher Shop and Apple Press printing shop, located between the Trans Canada Highway and Whistler Street, on Oct. 8 as part of neighbourhood painting project. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan’s Whistler Street sees a fresh lick of paint in opioid battle

Group wants to help clean up community, one street at a time

Maureen Cue, owner of Disguise the Limit costume shop, models – maybe the most obvious – pandemic costume. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Vancouver Island costume expert showcases pandemic-safe Halloween looks

Maureen Cue models the best masked Halloween costumes

Thaddeus Lenover kisses his mushroom picking partner Teagan Evans on the cheek after a rainy day out in the woods harvesting wild mushrooms. (Nora O'Malley photo)
West Coast mushroom pickers say it’s less busy this year

COVID-19 reduces interest in what has otherwise been a good season

(pixabay photo)
Bakker: Feeling alone after a miscarriage

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month

Dylan Hillis preparing collagen samples from ancient dog bones at the UBC musuem of Anthropology. Photo: Eric Guiry
Ancient ‘woolly dog’ ate mostly fish, new University of Victoria study finds

Study gives researchers better understanding of human-dog relationships on Tsehaht First Nation

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Visitors stroll through Goldstream Provincial Park on a calm, crisp Sunday. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Visitors flock to Goldstream Provincial Park for 2020 salmon run

‘I wanted to come here before I move back to Australia,’ says visitor

File Photo
Planned power outage in Port Alice Oct. 27

BC Hydro crews to work from midnight to 4 a.m. replacing substation equipment

Greg Duerksen and his family. (gofundme photo)
Firefighter prepares for stem cell transplant

Friends rally to help raise funds for Duerksen family

Legendary Vancouver-based blues and jazz guitarist and vocalist Jim Byrnes will perform live at the Tidemark Theatre in a concert that will also be streamed. Contributed photo
Legendary blues musician and actor Jim Byrnes hits the Island

Playing Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre for a hybrid live/online show

Conservation officers hope the public can provide information about who shot and left a bull and cow Roosevelt elk near Spruston Road, south of Nanaimo. (Facebook photo)
Pair of Roosevelt elk shot and left in woods south of Nanaimo

Conservation officers hope public can help find who killed the animals near Spruston Road

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Most Read