Three months ago, Glen Ringdal bluntly dismissed the notion that he might be the next president of the Chilliwack Chiefs.
“No,” he said. “No.”
We’ll never know what went on behind the scenes and how hard Ringdal’s arm had to be twisted to change that position, but Tuesday morning the 67-year-old took the job with a smile on his face, talking enthusiastically about plans.
Not only is Ringdal taking on the title of Chiefs president and director of business development, he’s also the CEO of Prospera Centre.
“We’ve always felt that Prospera Centre needs to run in conjunction with the hockey team, that it’s an integral part of the community and we need both parts to be in synch,” said Chiefs co-owner Moray Keith as he announced the hiring of Ringdal. “Frankly, we don’t think it’s been that way over the last few years. So we need someone who understands the hockey business and the arena business.”
If there is a man who fits the bill and has the ability to pull off such ambitious things, it is Ringdal.
His resume is an accomplished one, highlighted by hugely successful stints with the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks and Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions.
Ringdal joined the Canucks in 1986, hired by owner Arthur Griffiths during a dark time in the franchise’s history.
The team was a perennial loser and the Pacific Coliseum was half empty most nights.
As a key member of the front office, Ringdal helped the team rebuild its season ticket base and played a key role in the creation of Canuck Place and the construction of Rogers Arena (then General Motors Place).
“Many have credited Glen with saving the Canucks, and I can still remember the season ticket base being a paltry 5,000 or so and Glen getting it up to 16,123,” Keith said.
In 1996 he was named president of the B.C. Lions, signing on for three years that quickly became five. From 1998-00 he lent his talents to the Vancouver 86ers (now Whitecaps) soccer team and in 2001 he was honoured as the Vancouver Sports Personality of the Year.
In recent times he’s served as general manager of the Langley Events Centre, a multi-use facility opened in 2009.
“Glen ran a fantastic facility as we went from the building stage to the operational stage and when he left it had booked 859 events for the following year,” Keith said.
The LEC is very similar to the one he will now operate in Chilliwack, although Prospera Centre has been chronically under-used.
Aside from hockey, the occasional monster truck show, Jehovah’s Witness conventions and Wizard of Oz revivals, it sits empty.
“This building is going to be fully owned, when the partnership is finished, by the city and we have to ensure that we’ve built it into the kind of asset the city expected when they made the investment in the first place,” Ringdal said. “We are going to be working very hard to bring other events and activities into this building so everyone can enjoy it.”
Ringdal and his wife, Sherry, will be full-time residents of Chilliwack, where they will probably run into Clint Hames a time or two.
The former mayor of Chilliwack was at Tuesday’s news conference, introduced by Chiefs co-owner Jim Bond.
Hames is the chair of the newly created Chiefs Business and Community Liason Board.
“Moray and I have always viewed this as the community’s team and we’re just the caretakers,” Bond said. “We want some good feedback from the community, and we’re really really pleased to have Clint on board with this.”
City councilor Chuck Stam was announced as the first board member of a group that will provide imput on everything from parking to promotions.
Hames sees the board as a conduit from the team to the community.
“The BCHL is a great league because it sends hundreds of kids to university every year, and a lot of the young fellas who play for the Chiefs are going to stay in our community,” Hames said. “That’s why I’m so committed to this project. The team’s success will be the community’s success and we want to make sure the values of our community are reflected in the decisions the team makes. Unless you have that you, I’m not sure you can be truly successful in a place like Chilliwack.”