City Coun. Dan McCreary feels Brantford needs to work on its relationship with major sports teams that play in Brantford.
“We’ve had some issues around some of our major sports teams the last few years,” McCreary said. “We don’t have a close relationship between staff, council and the owners of those teams.”
The relocation of the city’s junior B hockey franchise to Caledonia last year and the one-year hiatus of the Brantford Blast in 2009-2010 are two recent examples of situations that McCreary would like to avoid in the future.
“As long as we don’t have a good strong relationship, then the future of these teams is not a guarantee,” he said. “And that strong relationship might even help us attract other teams to the municipality that might want to play here.”
Through a resolution at city council, McCreary is proposing that a liaison committee comprised of two councillors and appropriate city staff be established to “create and maintain positive and ongoing business relationships with our major sports teams and to provide an avenue to take advantage of future opportunities to attract new major sports teams to the community.”
The city’s part in hosting sports teams like the Brantford Blast senior A hockey team, the Brantford Galaxy of the Canadian Soccer League and the Brantford Red Sox of the Intercounty Baseball League is integral.
In all three examples, the municipality owns and maintains the team’s home facility – the Brantford and District Civic Centre, Lions Park and Arnold Anderson Stadium.
McCreary said major sports teams add a lot to community life.
“Its a form of entertainment that is affordable,” he said. “And they offer, on a smaller level, something in the way of role models for our kids.”
When the Brantford Blast took a one-year hiatus in 2009, it was because the team was unable to get a contract in place for use of the civic centre.
Blast owner Peter Ham said anything the city does to strengthen relationships with sports teams is a good idea in his book.
“Anything that can be done to eliminate the possibility of what happened to us in 2009 happening to any other team would be very beneficial,” Ham said. “Two years removed from winning the Allan Cup, we had to sit out. This is hopefully a realization of the time, money and energy that goes into keeping these teams alive.
“It’s all about dialogue and teamwork between city council, department heads, managers and tenants. The more clear and lucid that is, the better it is.”
It was McCreary and former councillor Greg Martin who worked with city staff to restore the relationship with the Blast and bring the team back in 2010 with a new contract.
“We need to always be working on the relationship with these teams, not just when it’s in trouble,” McCreary said.