Riggers Roughin' it

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

Since their inception, the Calgary Roughnecks have run as a bare-bones operation and still managed to put a decent product on the floor.

But in the wake of financial losses this season, owner Brad Banister will be tightening the purse strings a bit more.

He fired vice-president and general manager Kurt Silcott Tuesday because his club lost "a lot" of money and needed to change its business model.

Without revealing how much he lost or where he plans on cutting, Banister said yesterday cutting back expenses is the route he'll take this off-season.

"Really, our ticket revenue wasn't down a bunch," Banister said yesterday in the quiet Roughnecks office still reeling from Silcott's firing.

"Our expenses were extremely high. We have to build a budget based on attendance and travel costs. If we're drawing 9,000 people, we can't spend like we're drawing 14,000 people."

Because the club's business operations are already streamlined, the next place to look for reducing costs is lacrosse operations.

Outside of salaries, which are hardly exorbitant, the other major expense is travel -- flying players in from other parts of the country.

Ideally, having them relocate to Calgary would be the best idea, but it just isn't possible in many cases with players holding full-time jobs.

Calgary was fourth in attendance this season behind Colorado, Buffalo and Toronto with an average of 12,211 over eight home dates, but that was aided heavily by the 18,737 that showed up to the free ticket night Banister offered.

Without that game, which cost the Riggers about a quarter-million dollars, their average would have been 11,281.

The 9,000 figure Banister refers to is the 9,327 fans who showed May 10 up for the home playoff game against the Portland LumberJax.

All three of the teams with higher attendance figures have much larger operations than the Roughnecks, which is down to three full-time front-office staff under Banister.

"We just have to be more efficient in what we're doing," Banister said. "We'll add people as we need them, but this is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

"We need to sell more season tickets, but that's not an easy task. We need to work harder at it. The next few months is when we're going to work hard on that. We'll be knocking on doors, trying to sell sponsorships and tickets."

Although Banister had yet to talk to the Roughnecks' coaching staff as of yesterday, he said it will be their decision whether Troy Cordingley and his assistants return.

Banister said he is pleased with the job Cordingley did during a season in which captain Tracey Kelusky and No.-1 goalie Steve Dietrich missed significant portions with concussions.

But the nuttiness of the 2008 campaign continued this week when Silcott was fired from the position he held since 2005.

"It was an emotional rollercoaster from the collective bargaining agreement to the final playoff game," Banister said. "There were surprises all over the place."

Banister takes over GM duties for the time being, and he doesn't have a plan in place to hire anyone else to run the team. He said firing Silcott was one of the toughest decisions he ever had to make, especially because Banister's wife and Silcott's girlfriend are best friends.

"This might be something I will second guess for a long time, but it had to be done."


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