Mile One Centre contractually obligated; takes steps to reduce energy used
The decision to allow the St. John’s IceCaps to play home games this week while many Newfoundlanders were without power and being asked continuously to conserve energy to aid a fragile system rubbed some people the wrong way.
While there was no shortage of fans to take in the two-game home stand at Mile One during the past two days, some folks took to Twitter and other social media to air their concern that the games went ahead in spite of a power shortage that saw tens of thousands of people left in the cold and the dark. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
But the chairman of the group responsible for operating Mile One Centre says it was contractually obligated to go ahead with the games, and steps were taken to reduce the amount of electricity used during games.
Saturday’s game against the Portland Pirates was postponed because of a winter storm wreaking havoc on flights travelling to and from the northeastern United States.
That first game of the three-game series was rescheduled for Monday night, and when the IceCaps confirmed Sunday morning that the game scheduled to take place that afternoon would go ahead, many social media users responded negatively.
“So I get power back after 30 hours and still have to conserve energy (only one heater on) BUT the IceCaps game goes ahead,” wrote Steph Delaney of St. John’s in a post to her Twitter account.
Memorial University business professor and social media expert Lyle Wetsch suggested it was the wrong decision.
“Not sure if decision to play IceCaps game with power issues (is the) best call,” he wrote Sunday on Twitter. “Need to support those still without power.”
In its statement announcing the game would go ahead, the IceCaps made note of those to whom it is obligated.
“The IceCaps organization is obligated to our season-ticket holders, our fans, the Portland Pirates and the American Hockey League to play the game as scheduled,” it said in the statement. “The IceCaps are mindful that some residents in the city remain without power and hope that today’s game provides a respite for those that have endured this weekend’s storm.”
Other arenas that host hockey games, including ones in Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South and Harbour Grace, have remained closed. St. John's Sports and Entertainment Ltd. (SJSE) operates Mile One Centre, and its chairman, Steve Sparkes, told The Telegram that comparing those stadiums to Mile One Centre's situation is not a fair comparison.
So I get power back after 30 hours and still have to conserve energy (only one heater on) BUT the IceCaps game goes ahead. Steph Delaney of St. John’s, via Twitter
“We’re dealing with the second-highest level of professional hockey that exists in North America that operates on an international basis with a very integrated schedule. The ramifications of us cancelling a game are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
He was referring to those who would be left on the hook for travel and accommodations expenses if the Pirates were forced to come back to St. John’s at a later date.
The Pirates have another three-game series in St. John’s in mid-March and an eight-day gap between the last game of that series and its next contest in Bridgeport, Conn.
Sparkes said SJSE is contractually obligated to provide Mile One Centre if it is in a position to do so.
“We were in a position where we could provide the facility and we were basically obliged to fulfil our contract with the IceCaps,” he said.
Newfoundland Power was consulted prior to Sunday’s game and steps were taken to reduce the amount of electricity used during the game. Sparkes said interior and exterior lights were turned off, along with those that illuminate advertisements. The heating temperature was also lowered for the game.
In the event of an unexpected outage, Sparkes said, a backup generator would activate and allow fans to safely leave the stadium.
The Telegram requested an interview with IceCaps management, but a spokesman for the organization said it had nothing more to say beyond Sunday’s statement.