Runners take edge off for Oiler investors

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:17 PM ET

Even without the benefit of playoffs, the Edmonton Road Runners will take some of the edge off the bottom line in terms of costs incurred by the Edmonton Investor's Group during the cancelled 2004-05 NHL season. While final numbers aren't in, EIG board chairman and team governor Cal Nichols figures operating the Road Runners will mean at least $1 million toward covering costs estimated at $10-11 million.

"We're going to be in the glue for about $9 million," Nichols said. "We're getting a bit of help from the Road Runners. That was a business hedge on our part. It worked."

Costs for the season - including salaries, benefits and bonuses for hockey operations and office staff, insurance and the lease at Rexall Place - were initially projected as high as $12 million. That figure has been scaled down and will be reduced by the profit shown by the Road Runners.

"It's not just the money part," Nichols said. "It kind of helped to maintain a product of some sort here to stick with our fans. There was a financial issue, but it was also an entertainment issue. Both goals were met."

The Road Runners attracted 354,151 fans for an average crowd of 8,853 through 40 homes dates, which ranks third in the AHL, despite falling out of playoff contention in the stretch drive. They drew an announced crowd of 8,161 for the regular-season finale against Manitoba Wednesday.

While home playoff dates would've padded the profit and cut into the EIG's red ink, Nichols said the benefit of two or three home dates in one series is not substantial because of the AHL's revenue-sharing formula.

"It would have been nice for the excitement," Nichols said.

"It would have added a little bit, but the fees going to the AHL are significant. They take a big part of the playoff gate. It would have been nice, but it's not crucial to the process."


Videos

Photos