BCHL requests financial aid from government as COVID-19 wreaks financial havoc

The commissioner of the junior A league has suggested some teams may go into hiatus without help.

The BCHL is officially asking for government help as losses mount in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The junior A hockey league sent out a news release Wednesday morning detailing the financial hits the 17 (soon to be 18) team league has taken, starting with the cancellation of the 2019-20 playoffs.

The league pulled the plug on the postseason on March 13, after round one was completed, leaving three rounds unplayed.

With Hockey Canada shutting down all sanctioned events indefinitely, BCHL teams will be unable to run revenue-generating spring camps.

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“We have every intention of playing hockey next season, with all 18 of our teams, if we get the green light from Hockey Canada as well as the provincial health authorities,” said BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb. “But, the reality is we’ve identified potential financial issues down the road due to this pandemic and want to address these problems now.

“The league has already lent its support to our teams through a contingency fund, but it’s clear that more is needed.”

BCHL teams have an uncertain situation heading into 2020-21 as they try to secure sponsorships and sell tickets. The league says it has gathered letters of support from mayors in each market as well as the District of Kitimat, which hosted the BCHL’s first-ever Road Show last February.

Hebb suggested in a media appearance last weekend that some franchises may be in danger of folding if financial aid doesn’t come.

“We are seeking the support of the B.C. government and are merely asking for a meeting to explain the economic, social and cultural impact of our teams on the 17 B.C. communities they represent,” said Graham Fraser, chairman of the BCHL board of governors.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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