SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Storm have played to large crowds all year long and as the team enters the playoffs in only its second season, the focus now is on the National Basketball League of Canada’s championship, not contract negotiations with the City of Summerside.
The team will end its second one-year deal with the city once the playoffs conclude, and it will be at that point when the owners sit down with municipal officials to work out a new one.
What the deal could be or where the Storm would be playing next season, Summerside or Charlottetown or even off-Island, is still up for discussion.
“We’re not now negotiating with anybody,” said Storm co-owner Duncan Shaw on Thursday. “It has taken so much energy to win ball games. We’ve two guys on injured reserve. We had the Al thing (the departure of point guard Al Stewart). There’s a lot of work going on on the court. There’s a lot of work going on with getting people into the stands. We’re trying to get things going for the playoffs. The playoffs are around March break, which is another challenge, but it just takes work.”
Shaw said while the Storm is a major business for him and partner Darren MacKay, it’s not their only business.
“Our other businesses are construction and real estate,” he said. “With the HST coming April 1, we’re running around like crazy trying to deal with that. Let us get through the year. Let’s finish this job and then do it right. Let’s get through, sit down and have conversations, deal with the issue. Do it right, make a decision, announce it and move on.”
There is one key element that neither Credit Union Place nor the Charlottetown Civic Centre have that would be attractive to Storm ownership – a Jumbotron screen.
Shaw said this is important for the team to generate revenue through advertising.
“It’s huge,” he said. “People think it’s a fun thing. The Rocket in Charlottetown have all the signage, all the boards, everything. The (Summerside Western Capitals) get all those backdrops, they get the boards, they get the wraps on the posts, they have all the signage. The only thing we had from the city this year was the stairs, which we were fortunate to partner with Vector (Aerospace) on.”
He said this problem is addressed by every other team in the league by selling advertisers time on a Jumbotron.
There are two video screens at either end of Credit Union Place but they are not situated within easy eyesight of the fans.
Shaw wasn’t certain of the cost of a Jumbotron but estimates range anywhere from $250,000 upwards.
He said it would be an investment on the part of the city to install one.
“It’s a big lack in that building for all events, whether it be a concert, a Caps game, the RBC,” he said. “It’s something that in a stadium of that ilk you would expect.”