Sens president Cyril Leeder gave an update of the team's status off the ice on Tuesday in a press conference.
Here's what he had to say...
Off the ice we had a great year and the organization made a huge leap forward and there will be more positive announcements coming in the offseason. The highlights from the year that was for us included starting the year with a new arena naming partner. We signed the partnership agreement with Canadian Tire and they've proven to be a great corporate partner to work with and we've accomplished a lot together in the first year working as a group. In our partnership with Canadian Tire we also worked together to design, construct, build and open in time for opening night, the new Chek Point restaurant. We built a new direct parking lot to Queensway bus lane that opened in time for opening night. We launched our new online retail store in the fall as well, OttawaTeamShop.com. During the year we added a new significant piece of infrastructure to the building, the new Canadian Tire Centre Vision system, our new HD digital video system. That's a piece of technology that will allow us to provide a world class experience for our fans and, at the same time, deliver unique business opportunities to the club's advertisers and key partners.
The year could also be characterized as the year of the major media deal. We saw two big deals get signed during the year. Of course, the league's deal with Rogers media and then our local regional deal that we signed with the Bell Media group. Our local agreement is a 12 year agreement that will see TSN and RDS become the new official broadcasters until the 2025-26 season. That landmark agreement with Bell Media represents one of the most wide-ranging, comprehensive agreements in all of the NHL. I'm absolutely certain that our organization and fans will significantly benefit from that new partnership with Bell Media for many, many years to come.
March saw us participate for the first time in the Tim Hortons Heritage Classic game in Vancouver and in the community again we were very active this past year through the Sens Foundation and their other community programs and initiatives. In February our team got to practice on the first outdoor RINK project we completed at Jules Morin Park and we're going to be putting shovels in the ground this month on the second community RINK project. We also staged a number of successful fundraisers, the most successful of those being the Ferguslea Sens Soiree that raised more than $325,000. We're also very excited about the opening this summer of the Richcraft Sensplex in the east end of the city which will be the city's second four pad arena complex and a new huge addition to the community.
Our reach as a hockey club and impact now is at an all-time high. We have Ottawa's largest and most engaged fan and customer base and that really is an important and huge strength for us going forward. During the year we had a number of third party validations. ESPN recognized the Senators as the number one pro sports franchise in Canada, number three in the National Hockey League. The Team Marketing Report's annual survey concluded that Senator fans receive the best value of any fans in the National Hockey League and the University of Ottawa report that recently came out, an independent study, indicated that Senators Sports and Entertainment generates over $200 million of economic activity each year and has generated over $3 billion of economic activity since 1992. That's lofty praise from those third parties and these independent validations help us reaffirm that we are definitely on the right track and headed in the right direction.
We've significantly strengthened the organization this past year, all of this is great news for the hockey club and our fans and we could not have accomplished all of that without the great support we receive from our fans and our corporate partners is really key to that. I want to thank them, I can't thank them enough for that continued support. This past year collectively the organization, our partners and our fans have really put the organization in a solid position moving forward. While we're happy with what we've accomplished this past year, there's still a lot of work to be done and a busy offseason ahead for our off-ice team. I will be making some big announcements shortly regarding some big improvements for the organization and for our fans and other initiatives that will further strengthen the club and our community. The season saw the organization take a huge leap forward and there will be more big announcements during the offseason and all further evidence that great things are happening as we continue to build momentum for the organization.
On the team's season ticket renewals:
We're really pleased with where our renewals are at right now. As I said, we continue to rank as one of the top values for fans in the National Hockey League and I think our fans recognize that. Our renewals have been quite strong and they are where we expected them to be at this point in time. We did our renewals a little earlier this year because of the Olympic break. We typically do them March 1 but we had to do them in early February this year. We've had a good renewal rate. Not making the playoffs is a big disappointment and, as I said, we're happy with our off-ice season but on the ice we're disappointed and that certainly makes it easier through the summer to continue to move the organization forward so we'll have to do something different this summer than rely on the playoffs.
On if anything will change with the arrival of the CFL in Ottawa:
We welcome the Redblacks and the Fury to the community, that's not new though. We've been here 22 years, I think we've had a football team for 13 or 14 of those years so we have co-existed and look forward to doing that going forward and I wish them all the best in the year ahead. In terms of our own plans, we will be making some changes in our food offerings and improvements to the building but that's normal course of business and operations and won't really be affected by the Redblacks.
On ticket prices:
Our ticket pricing — we'll be reviewing that over the summer but not in conjunction with what they (Redblacks) are doing.
On the team's finances this season:
As I said, we're in a better position now than we were a year ago. We really strengthened the organization through a number of agreements we talked about. Whether the media deals or the naming rights or new corporate sponsors we've added over the course of the year, the season ticket base increase. We've moved ourselves forward and, I think, significantly strengthened the franchise for the years ahead... We don't really get into the specific financial details there but it's always easier when you're in the playoffs, it's additional revenue and additional games. We're in a better spot than we were a year ago even being in the playoffs so I feel pretty good about that.
On a potential Ottawa outdoor game:
We haven't made any progress on that yet. I know there's folks in the community who keep talking about us hostinga game in 2017 and we would like to but we have to work something out with the league. We haven't made a formal application yet, though we hope to do so in the near future.
On the ticket base:
We're right in the middle of the season ticket drive right now so it's up and it's down so I don't really want to hang a number on the season ticket base because it's going to be a work in progress until opening night next year. We're feeling pretty good about the renewals, they are where we expected them to be and we've had a a good renewal period so far.
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