Royals expected to announce plans for return to city today

Dave Kearsey
Published on June 26, 2014
The Pepsi Centre is shown in an undated photo.
Star file photo

The Royals senior hockey club is poised to return to Corner Brook next season.

A formal announcement on the team’s return to the city is anticipated at noon today.

According to an advisory sent Tuesday, the team’s “booster club” called a media conference to lay out its plan. “Details of the Booster Club’s plan to support the team’s return to Corner Brook for the upcoming season will also be announced,” said the prepared release.

Royals president Ross Coates would not do an interview on the pending announcement, but said everything will be revealed to all media sources and fans at one time.

He says the plan for the future will be revealed at the press conference by the various parties involved in trying to get the team back to the city.

A source close to the Royals says the team will indeed call the Pepsi Centre home for the 2014-15 season to partipate in the new four-team Central-West Senior Hockey League.

The Royals have been contemplating a move back to the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook since the end of last season, which was the second winter the Western Royals called Deer Lake its home rink for the now-defunct Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.

“(Coates) had an agreement in principle and he just wanted to see the boys put their money where their mouth is before he made that commitment, so I’m assuming that has transpired and now he’s ready to make the announcement,” the source said Tuesday.

The Royals went looking for a new venue when the team felt it wasn’t getting a fair deal with Pepsi Centre management three years ago. Two years in Deer Lake and the experiment didn’t create the buzz people expected and the fan base continued to spiral with the average attendance for a home game this past season hovering around 500.

“(The team) didn’t have the numbers in Deer Lake,” he said. “(They) got the hockey fans out, but ... didn’t get the Red Wings fans out, it’s as simple as that.”

The move back to the city will require support of the fans, according to the booster club.

“Not for sure yet ... we have to sell 1,000 season passes by Aug. 31 to make it happen,” said the source.

Pepsi Centre General Manager Will Smith said the booster group is expected to make an announcement regarding the team but would not reveal whether the centre has confirmed a major tenant once again.

“I can’t comment ... other than the fact there’s plans to bring it back and the boosters are going to be making an announcement,” Smith said. “There’s nothing I can say beyond that.”