I guess we can say the Storm is over.
This week's relocation announcement of the Summerside Storm to Charlottetown has fans baffled, disappointed and some even a bit ticked off.
Storm co-owner Duncan Shaw says the National Basketball League of Canada team needs more corporate and fan support, which necessitates the move of his pro basketball team to Charlottetown. I wonder if Shaw knows why the P.E.I. Senators, Charlottetown Abbies and P.E.I. Rocket all failed at the Charlottetown Civic Centre?
There may be more corporate support in our capital city, but certainly that support must be getting stretched to the limit.
The now locally-owned and rebranded Charlottetown Islanders’ major junior hockey team needs a lot more of that same support. UPEI and Holland College have growing athletic programs, there is a major midget hockey team, two junior B teams amongst other sporting teams needing support as well. The competition for that corporate dollar must be fierce in Charlottetown.
The Storm reported that they were second in league attendance in their first year in Summerside, and they also drew very well in their second year. Can we expect the Storm to be the top-drawing team in the National Basketball League of Canada next year?
That is what will be needed to top Summerside’s attendance numbers.
I do not feel moving from one of the league's best buildings at Eastlink Arena to one of the worst in Charlottetown will boost attendance numbers.
A complete reversal
Two years ago, Shaw landed at the office of Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee wanting to take pro basketball to Charlottetown. What was said between Shaw and Lee that day led Shaw to take his proposal to Summerside, where he was welcomed with open arms to play out of that fantastic facility at Credit Union Place.
The Summerside Storm was born, and after two years I think most would agree that it was very successful. You have to consider the fact that basketball was played only in gymnasiums in our province until the Storm landed in Summerside, and they started with no fans at all.
They had built a fan base in Summerside that has caused Mayor Lee to do a complete flip-flop. He now says that city council would not be doing its job if it walked away from this, and said no to a new business opportunity.
In explaining the $200,000 that Charlottetown is putting into this project, Lee says the money was not in the budget, but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Lee obviously did not feel the same way two years ago, or I guess that they were not doing their job back in the summer of 2011. The fact of the matter remains that the Storm would not even exist if not for the forward-thinking of Summerside two years ago, and the strong fan support they received while playing in the western capital.
It is disappointing for the fans to lose the Storm. The thing that I noticed was the fun and enjoyment that fans had at Storm games, and whether those fans follow the team to Charlottetown remains to be seen.
The Storm organization owes a great deal of gratitude to Summerside, and the fans that came out to see them play. One would think that some sort of thank you will be coming from Storm ownership in the not too distant future.
Saturday is the big night for harness racing in Summerside, with the 45th running of the Governor's Plate.
Although it is the most anticipated night of harness racing at the 127-year old Summerside Raceway, that anticipation and excitement has been tempered somewhat with this week's announcement that, after 138 years, Truro Raceway is closing and hosting its final card of racing Sunday.
That announcement has everyone associated with harness racing on P.E.I. wondering just how much longer the sport can survive here?
Although there are plenty of horses to race locally with overflow entries all week during Lobster Carnival racing, the sport needs the rest of the Maritime region to continue to survive on P.E.I.
As fans, all we can do is enjoy it while we have it and be thankful that we still have big nights like Saturday. A big crowd is expected around the entire facility. A lot of fans like to watch the races from many of the great viewing spots that this track offers. Northumberland Street is one of the busier streets in Summerside on this big night, as many like to park their cars and get as close to the action as possible.
It looks like the weather will be ideal for racing, which will make for an even better night. Since a horse by the name of Kim Ash won the very first Governor's Plate way back in 1969, this great race has continued to grow in popularity making it one of the big races to win in our region.
The record purse of $22,000 will make for an even better race, with drivers giving it their all in hopes of getting a Governor's Plate win, or at least a share of that purse money.
It will be a great night for racing and fans are encouraged to come out and show support for the sport that has been such a big part of P.E.I. history for the past 127 years.
It was 20 years ago on July 13, 1993, that Gerard (Turk) Gallant was set to sign a free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, pending a medical examination.
Gallant became a free agent on July 1 – after 10 years with the Detroit Red Wings, who drafted him in the sixth round, 107th overall, in the 1981 Entry Draft.
Gallant made $425,000 in his last year as a Red Wing.
Have a great week!
Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.