February 22, 2011
Roughnecks may fold
Below is the press release sent out by Roughnecks majority owner and president Brad Banister:
LEAGUE LEADING PRO TEAM FACES CLOSURE
Roughnecks face toughest opponent to date
Life is full of peaks and valleys. Today I am in the deepest of valleys with little hope of getting out. It is with sadness and desperation that I have to write this letter.
The Roughnecks sit on top of the West division again after the win in Edmonton this weekend. I had to do something that I have feared doing for the last ten years. I had to explain to my team that pay cheques were going to be late. The look in my eyes I can only imagine was that of a beaten dog, perhaps the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I believe I had finally given up. To walk around the dressing room and inflict that kind of burden on a young team before a divisional rival such as Edmonton was the most embarrassing and humbling thing I have ever done.
The next day, Sunday February 20th the Roughnecks hit the floor and beat a very good team which went down to the wire again. They never gave up and never once quit. It is for that reason among many that I write this desperate letter. I am not ready to quit either.
Last year, the current leaders of the National Lacrosse League’s Western Division, visited scores of schools in southern Alberta. More than 20,000 children have benefitted from lessons given by some of the best lacrosse players on the planet. We believe in this program so much, that captain Andrew McBride heads it up.
Over the past decade, the Roughnecks and the Roughnecks Foundation has raised more than $1 million for several worthy charities.
Due to the Roughnecks’ influence on minor lacrosse, more Calgary and area players than ever before are now playing at the prestigious NCAA level.
Our commitment to the community has never wavered. Apart from the activities I have just mentioned, the club has also worked with the police, fire department, the military, breast cancer awareness, Right to Play and many others.
All this will end if the club has to close its doors.
A lot of corporations have benefited from having the Roughnecks in the city. How many pops and beers have been consumed over the last ten years? How many people have taken the LRT or even cabs to and from our games? The Stampede Board has done well on parking as well as the airlines, hotels, bars etc. You get the idea the list goes on and on.
We proudly wear the crest of our city and heritage and have walked through airports in cowboy hats handing out pins in many cities across North American for the past ten years. In my belief the Roughnecks have been great ambassadors for both our sport and this city.
It is time to call out the groups that need so desperately to step up. The only revenue that this team survives on is advertising and ticket sales (suites tickets excluded). We have never reached out to the City of Calgary or Corporate Calgary in the past. When I look around the city and witness that every professional team or performing arts group of Calgary has a building or facility to use that some what gives them a chance for survival it saddens me. When I look at all the teams or groups in Calgary that have Bank sponsorship, Energy sponsors, Service company sponsorship, automobile dealerships as well as Food chains etc.
A Save our Stamps campaign rescued the local football team back in the 80s. The Flames too have had their problem years.
The City of Calgary, its citizens and the business community did not turn their backs on them when assistance was required. We ask nothing more than that for the Roughnecks.
And if ever there was a time when corporate Calgary was needed to step up and help a club that has brought two North American championships to this city in just six years, the time is now.
If immediate help is not given, it is unlikely we will be able to complete the current season.
Regardless of what happens, I would like to send a heartfelt thanks to the fans, players, staff and sponsors who have contributed to what has been a memorable ten years. It has been a pleasure working with you all.
I realize this is a very desperate letter but is all I have left. I have never tuned my back on the city I was raised in and I only hope it does not turn its back on me or this franchise.
Owner and GM of the Calgary Roughnecks