Lac La Biche’s loss is Cold Lake’s gain.
The Portage College Voyageurs hockey team has entered a partnership agreement with the City of Cold Lake for the next three years.
This announcement came in only a few hours after Lac La Biche County apparently had reconsidered the initial offer to keep the hockey team in Lac La Biche.
The college says Lac La Biche County informed them of the reversal on May 9th at 5:49pm. The City of Cold Lake informed them of the acceptance of the partnership on at 9:41pm the same day.
Dr. Trent Keough, President & CEO of Portage College says, “We were in formal negotiations with the City of Cold Lake at the time of Lac La Biche County’s reversal, and we had no knowledge of the county’s renewed interest. We will honour the agreement with the City of Cold Lake. It is a business decision, not a political one.”
“The city’s understanding is that financial considerations prompted the college to look for a new home for its hockey team,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “We’ve built Imperial Oil Place for a very high level of hockey in this community, and we see the benefits of this partnership with Portage College.
This will not only benefit sports fans, but enhance the experience for college students in our region.”
The Voyageurs men’s hockey team has nine years of experience in the ACAC and plays a regular season with 18 home games each year. The sponsorship and marketing deal which council accepted includes $300,000 in financial assistance over three years, as well as a commitment to help with the infrastructure that the team would need to make a successful transition.
“The students who play on the team come with a strong history of supporting local organizations and minor hockey through volunteerism, so we see this as a community benefit that will go beyond the economic benefits brought by visiting teams and fans,” Copeland said.
The Voyageurs have 28 full-time student athletes and two full-time athletic positions who will transition and reside in Cold Lake.
“Council understands that it’s expensive to run a sports program and we hope this arrangement will give the Voyageurs hockey team the financial security it needs.”
The initial business proposal to the Lac La Biche County was not accepted and the College had to look elsewhere, or face the possibility in shutting down the team.