HUNTSVILLE - The Huntsville Otters are only days away from potentially signing a long-term contract with the Town of Huntsville.
The town’s community services committee last week approved a three-year contract with the team, to start for the 2013-2014 Georgian Bay Junior C Hockey League season.
Team president Andy Cooke had approached the town last fall with the request that the town would consider assisting the club financially on its ice bill should the team not make money this past season.
However, Kari Lambe, Huntsville’s community services and economic development director, said on Friday that the team submitted a financial document on Nov. 28 to the committee, which indicated the club would finish the season in a good financial position. The committee then instructed staff to negotiate a three-year deal with the team.
“The Otters are in good standing with the town and were able to fulfill the one-year contract with the town this past season,” she said. “All their accounts with the town are up to date.”
In the contract, which is to go to the council table on March 25, the team would agree to the same key items contained in the previous contracts. The Otters will pay the town $12,000 annually in ice rental fees and $16,000 for advertising rights to the Don Lough and Jack Bionda arenas, plus the ball fields at the McCulley-Robertson Sports Complex, the sides of the ice resurfacers and the game clocks.
Otters’ president Andy Cooke said the new deal would go a long way in assisting the team’s longevity, both on and off the ice.
“It means we have a future. We can carry on with our plans and make commitments to hockey players and sponsorship deals, now that we know we have a direction for the club,” he said.
The team had signed a one-year deal with the municipality last May. In most cases, junior hockey contracts are year-to-year, but the Otters typically had three-year contracts with the town when they were a junior A club.
Cooke said the team wanted a three-year deal because club officials felt that was an acceptable term.
“We thought that was fair to continue on with (a three year) deal,” he said.
Cooke admitted there was a time early in the season when the club was concerned about its financial outlook, hence the request to the town that it cover any shortfalls.
“At the early part of the year, we were trying to be a little proactive in case anything came up,” he said. We had originally planned a golf fundraiser in September, but we were a first-year team, we were unsure we could handle a golf tournament in our year, so we put the tournament off.”
As for the club’s present finances, Cooke said the Otters are heading into the next season with a good outlook.
“We have paid all our bills. We have one fundraiser left for this season, a men’s hockey tournament the first weekend in April at the Don Lough Arena. That should put us into the black for this season and hopefully put a few dollars into the bank for next year. We should be in great shape.”