Lethbridge, AB – Over the past decade, the Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club has worked collaboratively with fans, sponsors, the WHL, the City of Lethbridge and other stakeholders to drive a major financial turnaround in its operations while at the same time delivering an engaging, family-friendly and high-quality entertainment experience. Our volunteer Board of Directors takes our responsibility for the stewardship for one of the few community-owned teams in the league very seriously.
We are grateful for the strong sense of pride and support displayed by players, billet families, corporate partners, local media and other supporters over the last two years as we navigated the challenges of a global pandemic and the resulting financial impacts to our organization.
We feel compelled to respond to an on-line statement issued by the City of Lethbridge yesterday through its website and set the record straight. The release implied that the Hurricanes have been well informed of the changes to parking and that negotiations had taken place. This simply is not true. While our lease contains a provision for revenue sharing from any implementation of paid parking, the City has engaged in no such negotiations to date.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club is the primary anchor tenant of the ENMAX Centre delivering significant ticket sales, concession revenues and media impressions for the venue. The Hurricanes also support the broader promotion of Lethbridge and the many reasons to visit our great community.
It’s worth noting that as a community owned team, we are invested in Lethbridge. We are unique in the league to directly raise or support fundraising in our community for a broad change of charitable organizations in excess of $150,000 each year. The Hurricanes also have a player education fund that fully supports our athletes with tuition reimbursement.
The decision to implement paid parking at the ENMAX Centre will have a profound impact on the game day experience of fans and, consequently, the revenues of our operations. Lethbridge will become the one of the only WHL franchises with paid parking across the league with the exception of the major NHL venues of Edmonton and Calgary. Paid parking has been abandoned by other WHL facilities including Red Deer and Medicine Hat because of the negative impacts on their revenues and operations. (Kelowna has paid parking but includes alternatives with some free options.)
The Hurricanes have been transparent and clear in all past communications with city officials with respect to paid parking. Paid parking is a detriment to our fans and will have negative impacts. We have welcomed the opportunity to discuss alternatives but have yet to be consulted directly.
The hockey club has engaged the services of a consultant to explore revenue opportunities and alternative operational models to assist the City with lowering its costs and reducing general tax support required. The Hurricanes have previously provided the ENMAX Centre with a range of proposals which have not been responded to.
There has been some discussion about paid parking at local post-secondary institutions and other community facilities like Exhibition Park. These comparisons do not accurately reflect the different ownership, operational and revenue models of these organizations. The ENMAX Centre is a municipally owned building that is operated by municipal employees. There are a number of tax supported facilities across the city that provide a variety of cultural, recreational and entertainment experiences for residents. We acknowledge that the City does need to address life cycle replacement and required upgrades to facilities including parking lots but suggest it should do so in a consistent way and with regard to how such facilities are used by the public.
While we are disappointed by City Council’s spilt decision to move forward with paid parking at the ENMAX Centre without proper engagement or consultation with us, we remain committed to our community and to working collaboratively with the ENMAX Centre. It is our hope that City Council will immediately reconsider their decision and commit to working with key stakeholders like the Hurricanes to seek mutually beneficial solutions and appropriate business models based on the best available evidence and industry practices.
Governor & Board Chair
Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club