CORNWALL Ontario – One of the things that few people know about me is that I’m agoraphobic. IE I have fear of crowds and in particular speaking in front of crowds.
I know; it’s nuts;but there’s something magical about challenging our fears that amps me up.
I used to joke about being a macho hypochondriac; ie I’d imagine I’d have conditions,but tough them out.
I digress. This weekend I attended two events. Friday night’s presser for the River Kings. Cornwall is buzzing.
The Kings play a murky Don Cherry kinda style of hockey that helps the blood frenzy that most Cornwallites have. Sometimes it even looks like real hockey; but mostly it’s about smack downs and scrapping with crowd faves like Chris Cloutier and Francis Lessard. (Hope Clouts comes back)
I have always had a soft spot for the more pugnacious variety of hockey player. I gave Lyle “Odie” Odelein his first card show gig. It was fascinating watching him destroy a box of cards looking for his pic at one event….
(pictured from left to right Al Wager, team consultant; Brock Frost, Sugar Daddy; Mitch Gagne GM & Sweater Vest Guy!)
I digress again. Brock Frost, secret agent, real estate guru, and city council candidate (said to be eyeing a run for mayor in 2018 – hey, the boy has plans!) is trying to do what others have failed; have the Kings finish a season where everyone gets paid.
It’s a challenge, well; because it’s Cornwall, and it being Cornwall someone’s getting screwed, and so far it’s been the Kings Nation. Brock has a huge challenge cut out for him, unless….he knows….something we all don’t…..which is also pretty common in Cornwall.
Sources have stated that the cost of running the Kings is approximately $600K per year. The same sources estimate that with everything shaved down; that includes players salaries, if actually received by players, (allegedly David Small was very small in making with the payments to the coach and team)
The new budget is said to be around the $450K mark for the year.
Last year, with all the turmoil the team sold about 250 season tickets which of course is nowhere near enough. This year the target is double that and you save $25 if you buy before June 30th. If you extrapolate the attendance numbers stated last year you end up with approximately $350K which would leave another $100K in sponsorship’s and promotions which isn’t impossible if the community pulls together.
The team lead the league in attendance last year in spite of the turmoil and this year if Brock gets his team working well it should do better so there’s no reason to think it, improbable, that he might break even and that’s without another partner stepping in or with any support from the city.
And that’s a thorn for this scribbler and many others. A biz like the River Kings should be front and centre in the Economic Development budget. Not a soul from the city attended the presser. Nobody from council, no department heads from the city. Nada! (I mean, come on; throw them a bone and give them some dead ice time at the Civic Complex or Benson Centre for practice at least!)
That’s sending a message and frankly not a good one. This is a city that gives St. Lawrence College about $100K per year to rent Aultsville Theatre; essentially the school auditorium. They spend even more money supporting the Woodhouse Museum which really doesn’t feel like a museum the rare times it’s open. It gave a carte blanche cheque for $30K to Lift Off as a loan a few years ago as well. Essentially if you are in with Mr. Peters and friends you get support. If you aren’t….
Saturday night I attended the Port Theatre. It was Captain Fantastic, tribute to one of my faves, Elton John. His song “I’m Still Standing” is my theme song 🙂
The Sylvain family have saved the theatre from meeting a grisly end. When they came in the roof was leaking, it smelled bad, the lights were dark outside, there was no hope, and in the winter not always oil in the furnace. All that were left were memories, Tim, Glenn, and some really great popcorn.
I had some of that popcorn last night. Thanks to this local family operation the Marquee is lit up at night. There is some digital projection, but not studio quality as that would cost close to $75,000 to install. All you smell is fresh popcorn when you walk in and the place is starting to feel alive again.
They have been run about 25 concerts to add to their revenue stream and help save up for a digital project system; again with no help from the city except for a bit of minor Heart of the City funding. Some of those concerts actually sold out even which was exciting to see and be a part of.
Many of those concerts were catered so that there could be booze served. The Sylvain’s have followed the book but have hit the Cornwall Road Block that so many businesses have endured. Moustache Joe’s; over a one year wait to open and they were refused the use of the upstairs as a catering hall.
Truffles and Table 21, a multitude of delays and allegations that their patio permit was only green lit when they pulled their ad from CFN.
Another pizza restaurant in a strip mall; a full one year wait before he could open. These are not rare or unique circumstances. There are many others sadly.
The Sylvain’s aren’t saying much as to why the City not only have yet to allow them to have their liquor license as many other theatre’s are doing for special events; but they went one step further by allegedly threatening the caterers who had provided liquor service so when I went to have a glass of wine before introducing the band last night there was none!
Not a drop since fire inspector Cliff Crites leaned on them. I have been told that the Sylvain’s are meeting with some mucky mucks this week; but to watch a family bleed and kill themselves to save a historic venue and do such a good job and be treated this way is very very sad. It doesn’t send out a message to outsiders that they should come to Cornwall and invest.
We are losing our venues in this city. Murphy’s Inn, no more. Rangatangs, rung out. Remington’s. Even the venerable La Maison is for sale.
People still want entertainment. I know that as we’ve sponsored sold out events in this town; but we as a community have to do better if we want these places to survive and for us to have things to do or see.
But more importantly our elected officials and public servants who suck our hard earned cash out of us in bucket loads need to get their heads out of their bums and start to listen. Enough waving of flippers and thanking people. Action is needed. Cold hard cash is being lost by people who simply want to help our city grow and thrive. These people contribute to the culture of our city and economy. Why do our officials crap on them?
It would be a tragedy for the City to lose the River Kings or the Port theater. It’s a tragedy that more doesn’t happen here in Cornwall. Drive down Pitt Street after dark, or you can do as I have on occasion; walk a full city block down the middle without a car inhibiting your journey. Doesn’t our council and city management, many on the Sunshine list not understand this? Is it because so many of them don’t actually live in Cornwall or simply have driver’s licenses that say they do yet rack up metric tons of mileage like our mayor?
We as a community need to talk about these issues. We need to think about the Cornwall we want. And if we really want change we have to work together to make that change. We need Cornwall to be more inclusive and open.
But in the meanwhile we need to support our teams like the River Kings. We need to support families like Larry, Nancy, and Nick Sylvain who have truly given a lot to Cornwall.
And yes, we need to support the newspapers that actually will talk about issues like this instead of punish them.
What do you think Cornwall?
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