AJHL moves to pay model for sustainability during COVID-19 pandemic

The AJHL kicked off its exhibition season Thanksgiving weekend. Teams play in a six game series, to follow sports cohort rules. The league won't start the regular season before that rule changes, as well as the number of fans allowed in the building. In the meantime, the league has moved to a pay-to-play model to subsidize lost revenue. Quinn Phillips reports.

The Alberta Junior Hockey League relies on sponsorship and gate revenue to run its business. With both taken away because of COVID-19, the league had to find a new way to bring in revenue.

“The cost of running organizations, whether that’s billets, ice time, equipment,” said Ryan Bartoshyk, commissioner of the AJHL. “This is the first time players have had to pay a registration fee on a monthly basis to our organizations.”

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Every team is different in how much it charges. The Sherwood Park Crusaders did what they could to make it as affordable as possible for families.

“We actually sold raffle tickets,” said Thomas Ashcroft, whose son Cale is a rookie with the Crusaders. “And we were able to sell the name bars on jerseys through sponsorship. So it made it actually pretty economic.”

The Ashcroft family had already been paying for Cale’s hockey, through the NAX Academy which meant hockey was in the budget. The Ashcrofts are among many families in the AJHL that understand the importance of financial support and are happy to do it.

“We’re always looking for the best development opportunity,” said Ashcroft. “I’ve been to some practices and I’ve seen what they do. The coaching is incredible, the pace and the level.

“The players that are involved, honestly, we wouldn’t have found a better opportunity for Cale to train in.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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