Mark Cheyne is still the steady hand at the helm of the West Kelowna Warriors.
But from here on in, Cheyne won’t be alone in navigating the choppy waters of owning the BCHL team.
With the prospects of the Warriors leaving West Kelowna next season, a group of local investors stepped up late last month to help Cheyne keep the franchise in the Okanagan.
Ideally, Cheyne would have liked to sell the team outright to local interests, but is happy with what turned out to be the next best scenario.
“I appreciate these guys stepping up,” said Cheyne, who has suffered significant financial losses every year since taking over sole ownership in 2009. “The idea is to have someone else coming to the table to help with the day-to-day operations of the club, helping with things like corporate sponsorships, trying to balance the books.
“Hopefully it’ll be a significantly better arrangement, we’ll have a different business model,” he added, “and we’ll have more help generating revenue and spreading out the costs of running the team.”
Cheyne will be joined by as many as six new shareholders/co-owners, all from the Central Okanagan and with varied backgrounds.
Cheyne said the precise percentages of ownership, including his own portion, have yet to be determined.
One key area Cheyne said the new group is promising to address is the Warriors’ season ticket base.
At just a little over 400 for the past season, Cheyne hopes an aggressive ticket drive this summer will push that number closer to 1,000.
In the end, Cheyne is happy to see the club back at Royal LePage Place for the start of the 2017-18 BCHL season.
“This was the easiest and best of the options I had and I think it’s good for the community that it stays here,” he said. “It’s nice for me to still be a part of it and see how we can make things work down the road.
“I’m looking forward to seeing our hockey club next season.”
In January, Cheyne had been looking at relocating the team to North Delta under new ownership, but the deal fell through.