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Council backs return of Smithers Steelheads

Town grants the club the arena concession, approves a beer garden and will pay for centre ice logo
The 2016 CIHL champion Smithers Steelheads. (Xuyun Zeng photo)

The Smithers Steelheads recently scored a hat trick.

On June 11 council unanimously approved a formal request from the team to take over the lease on the Smithers Civic Centre concession stand, as well as a request to have a beer garden area where they can serve alcohol.

The Town also approved a request from the team to cover the cost of installing the centre ice logo at the arena.

One of the reasons that Coun. Frank Wray said he supported the request to have the Steelheads take over the lease, which will be issued at a dollar a year, was that the stand itself is quite derelict and the organization can clean it up cheaper than the Town.

“It would be much cheaper for the Steelheads … [they] can use in-kind labour, they can use donated materials, whereas we cannot,” Wray said.

The Town was clear that all renovation costs for the concession stand would be borne by the team.

As for the suds, the final plans for how a beer garden will be carried out are still on ice, but the town has approved the request in principle, with staff being directed to work on a policy to bring back to council.

Coun. Gladys Atrill said she sees the request as a net positive.

“It is an opportunity for the Steelheads to be more successful financially [and] with the right regulations around it and sectioning off a portion of the arena I’ll support it.”

In their decision to fund the team’s centre ice logo, the stencil, paint and man-hours required to put it together, council acknowledged that there was a cost to be borne but that it was a small one and, in the long run, an investment.

“I’d love to see the town support the team [getting] up and running,” said Mayor Taylor Bachrach. “Although it foregoes sponsorship revenue, the team is going to rent ice from us.”

Wray floated the idea that, ideally, he would like to see the stencil funded by a sponsor of the team.

“I’m happy to provide paint and staff time to do it every year but it would be nice if they could find a sponsor.”

During the discussion Bachrach posed a question to Laura Aspenlind, the recreation coordinator with Smithers Recreation, Parks and Culture.

“Is the team playing in the arena going to bring in enough revenue to more than cover the cost of the logo this year?”

“That would be the hope,” said Aspenlind.

“They have about seven home games in a season [and] they’ll also rent the ice for practices, weekly practices and there’s a portion of tryouts as well,” she added.

In the end council decided to cover the cost and labour of installing the logo, approximately $1,000, with the money coming from the arena’s operation budget.

The Steelheads haven’t had a team in the CIHL since the 2017-2018 season.

The team won the CIHL championships in the 2015-2016 season.