IceCaps games irk some

Andrew Robinson
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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.



Organizations: IceCaps, Portland Pirates, Twitter account.Memorial University IceCaps organization American Hockey League Sports and Entertainment The Telegram Newfoundland Power

Geographic location: United States, Mount Pearl, St. John's North America

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Recent comments

  • Brandon
    January 08, 2014 - 21:24

    I still believe that 3/4 of a sell-out crowd ~ 4000 people consume less energy at a game sharing heat,light and cooking appliances than do 4000 people at home operating those same loads - even if they do so conservatively. How many people have to attend to make it worth while? I don't know. But i suspect that the irony of this situation lies in the fact that the games may have helped conserve more power with fans in the building than with fans at home. But hey what do I know, I'm not a VOCM caller, so I don't have a masters in electrical and civil engineering. way she goes Go Caps Go.

  • matt
    January 08, 2014 - 16:47

    they offered something for us to do while we have no power. Now if I remember correctly, the whole island was affected by the blackouts, all in it together.. so they offered a respite for the residents of ST. JOHNS and surrounding areas. hmmmm... sorry I couldn't make the trip from Corner Brook to the great city of Sin Jawns to bask in the glory of your contractually obligated hockey game to get me out of the cold dark and lift my spirit.. GTFO

  • SayWhat
    January 07, 2014 - 10:55

    Sorry..I made an error in my reply comment. I stated Winnipeg is getting an NHL outdoor game in 2016-17. It should have read 2015-16. I apologize for this poor lack of judgement in this error.

  • BillRd
    January 07, 2014 - 10:19

    We are one of four cities in all of Canada to have a team. There are dozens of cities that are much easier to get in and out of, that would love to have this team. If other teams find us too difficult because of weather or other challenges, they complain and rightfully so. League loses confidence. We have an empty building. Major subsidies would have be paid by taxpayers to keep it with nothing happening. Both games so far sold out 3/4 of seats occupied. Sunday left my dark house & dropped daughter & husband at game. Last night got there 6:10 lots of parking, paid my $12 had a fries & Pepsi. We lost otherwise a good night. too bad negative energy can't heat homes. Wonder how many complainers have tickets?

    • SayWhat
      January 07, 2014 - 10:50

      You're absolutely right. There are other cities that True North can look at when they move the team. I can think of going back to Winnipeg or moving to Saskatoon. Sioux Falls, South Dakota is another option. According to my calculations, there are just 61 regular season home games left before this team leaves. By the way did you know the NHL has awarded True North an outdoor game for the 2016-17 season. The NHL actually wanted it next season. However True North deferred because they wanted the game to mark their 5th anniversary in the NHL. Sometimes AHL teams are involved in these outdoor games and i got a gut feeling True North wants their farm team involved but a team not known as the St.John's Ice Caps.

  • Just me
    January 07, 2014 - 09:44

    "hope that today’s game provides a respite for those that have endured this weekend’s storm.”...... really??? I don't think it was at the top (or bottom) of their list to do Sunday afternoon. Anybody that went didn't want to see their money wasted.

  • gb
    January 07, 2014 - 09:43

    mmm you're not contractually obligated to put the life and safety of all residents of this province in jeopardy pal..when the electrical system is in such a precarious situation during a cold snap during a newfoundland winter. You demonstrated in no uncertain terms that you are not a good corprate citizen. Take your team and beat it out of Nfld put my family and myself at risk during this crisis in ordefr to save a few hundred thousand dollars. Is that the valure you place on our citizens?

  • Fan
    January 07, 2014 - 09:41

    Here's my take; First off, I'd like to bring to light (excuse the pun) that while the game did take place, all unessential energy consumption was turned off, this includes; heat, scoreboard, suit advertisements and the hall way lighting. Only the essential lighting was in use; lights used to illuminate the ice surface and the energy used to control ice regulations. Now, regardless of if this game took place or not, the ice surface would still have to be maintained, so that's redundant. Taking into account a stadium full off approx 6000 + fans potentially going in groups of two, that's 3000+ pairs. If even 50% of those pairs had left their homes completely vacant, that's 1500+ homes that are consuming minimal energy during that 3 hour span. I question those who are behind the complaints. If they were presented with the option of sitting at home for a second straight evening; potentially in the dark, or venturing to an IceCaps hockey game for an evening out, I have a strong belief they would of jumped at the opportunity to leave their homes.

  • SayWhat
    January 07, 2014 - 08:53

    The first thing that comes to my mind about this story is the photo. Look at all the no shows, Clearly season ticket holders had other priorities. The second thing is the phrase "contracturally obligated." I have another phrase its called "business insurance." The third thing is the callous dis-regard to Season ticket holders by the Ice Caps. Sunday's announcement was feeble at best. Finally, this is a very good story.

  • Joe
    January 07, 2014 - 08:45

    If people where so concern, than I guess no one went to the game. If we really want to show how we feel about this we would boycott mile one...we only care about number one and because of that mile one keeps doing this

  • Hoyt
    January 07, 2014 - 08:22

    They did what was the best for the IceCaps, and didn't care about anyone else. The money took priority over anything or anyone else. Pretty simple.

  • Mike
    January 07, 2014 - 07:53

    Look beyond the asanine excuse provided by the Icecaps ownership. Ask Hydro's Dawn Dally or NF Power's Michelle Coughlan to reconcile their corporate demands for people to conserve power, go without power for days, close all schools to conserve power and ask business with power to do them a favour by turning off lights but then allow/ensure a hockey game to go ahead!!! SHALLOW PUBLIC RELATIONS. Resign ladies.

  • Taxpayer
    January 07, 2014 - 07:52

    There is enough anti-business sentiment in Newfoundland already. The Ice Caps are a business and it's needs should be respected. Sorry some people didn't have hydro, but you should have planned ahead instead of waiting for nanny government to take care of everything for you.

    • see the light
      January 07, 2014 - 10:56

      Actually, it's a highly subsidized business with taxpayer dollars. What a wonderful business model. And yes of course, how stupid of us not to have a backup energy supply to keep us warm in a situation like this. Senior citizens living alone should have at least had a generator with a couple of hundred bucks worth of fuel on standby for situations like this. Did the sarcasm get through?