INNISFAIL — The Innisfail Eagles are about to officially sign their first lease agreement with the town for their new dressing room.
Last week, the town presented the senior men’s hockey club with an offer of $300 a month, to be invoiced quarterly, for a three-year period from Dec. 1, 2017 to Nov. 30, 2020.
The town’s offer, which came during council’s regular Nov. 27 meeting, comes after several months of uncertainty about a future agreement. Talks between both sides were held before the Oct. 16 municipal election but no deal could be reached.
Ryan Dodd, the Eagles’ general manager and assistant coach, made a passionate presentation to council at its regular meeting on Nov. 27.
He reminded council that the Eagles team is a not-for-profit organization that does not pay its players. Council was told the hockey team has made significant financial contributions to local sports organizations and youth, and even raised more than $20,000 for the Central Alberta Women’s Outreach Society.
Dodd’s presentation also included a proposal of a five-year lease agreement of $3,000 a year for the new dressing room, a 20-foot by 45-foot addition on the southwest corner of the Arena that was completed this fall.
The facility includes a trainer’s room, coach’s office, storage space and a meet-and-greet area. The $370,000 cost was split between the town and the hockey club.
However, the Eagles’ intention was to use the new dressing room only for games and practices. The team wants the facility to also be used by other local groups for free when the Eagles are not using it.
“We are donating it back. I’ve had minor hockey teams use it. I’ve had the emergency response team use it for a triage room. Innisfail figure skating has just contacted me and they are going to be using the room,” said Dodd. “It’s going in the right direction.”
The Eagles also asked council to give them a break on additional sign rentals. The team is now paying $2,000 a year for 20 signs and wants to add 10 more and only pay $50 rental for each.
Dodd told the Province on Nov. 30 the town turned down the sign proposal “at this time.”
Nevertheless, Dodd was still pleased with the town’s new lease offer for the dressing room.
“That is something I believe we can work with and it is a fair number,” said Dodd, whose team currently pays the town an hourly rate of about $130 for ice time at the Arena for games and practices.
“That allows us to budget, allows us to make decisions going forward. We know what we are going to pay. It is fair for everybody.
“We didn’t expect to get that room for free,” he added. “And we put a lot of time and money into it, but obviously it is still the town’s facility. They need to be able to pay for the power and the gas.”
Mayor Jim Romane said on Nov. 28 he was pleased council was able to come up with an offer that would be agreeable to the Eagles hockey team, noting the issue has been “ongoing for a while.”
“It hasn’t been too bad. It went back and forth a couple of times,” said Romane. “But we are hoping this is going to be satisfactory for them.”
Ryan Dodd, Eagles general manager
“That is something I believe we can work with and it is a fair number. That allows us to budget, allows us to make decisions going forward.”