VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Giants last took part in a game on March 7 of last year. They’ve been playing the waiting game ever since.
Owner Ron Toigo admits that’s been stressful for players, coaches, and his staff.
But after Monday’s announcement from Health Minister Adrian Dix that the Western Hockey League’s return to play plan in B.C. had been approved, the team can start looking forward instead of wondering what’s next.
Toigo says the plan calls for a pair of bubbles in the Interior. The five B.C. Division teams would each play a 24-game schedule.
“The last plan [the provincial government] were given has us and Prince George moving up to Kamloops to stay in a hotel. You don’t need any travel for that, and then Victoria would move to Kelowna,” he said on Sportsnet 650 Tuesday.
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) March 2, 2021
But those bubbles don’t come cheap, and Toigo says the league is banking on help from the province to help off-set testing and other costs.
“It’s an extremely expensive format to go with, but we’re planning on getting some [government] financial support,” he said.
Toigo says his team’s losses passed the seven-figure mark long ago. They’ve played no home games in over a year, which is a recipe for financial malaise in a gate-driven league like the WHL.
“Just losing the end of last season we were down over half a million dollars. Going into this year with zero revenues, we haven’t laid anybody off yet so you can just imagine what it’s like now,” Toigo said.
The WHL season started in Alberta last Friday. The seven clubs from Saskatchewan and Manitoba will begin play in a Regina bubble March 12, while the U.S. Division will start its campaign six days later.
Toigo says he’s awaiting final details on just what the Interior bubble protocol will entail but figures the Giants could play their opener before the end of March.