River Kings & Art Gallery Closing Show Clear Lack of Community Support in Cornwall by Jamie Gilcig AUG 21, 2016

River Kings & Art Gallery Closing Show Clear Lack of Community Support in Cornwall by Jamie Gilcig AUG 21, 2016

Cornwall Ontario – There are a core group of people in Cornwall that like to wear their civic pride like a badge of honor or Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

Finish near the last in Entrepreneurial studies, and you’ll hear complaints about how the study was done.

Celebrate our pizza as though it’s the best in the World even though it’s just old school Montreal style pizza.

Rave about a green space for a park on the water front instead of having a brimming active area for the community.

Talk about historic importance when most historic sites have been burnt down or destroyed.

Lift Off?  Gone.  Winterfest?  Gone.  Even the humble and strange Parade of Nations didn’t happen this year!

The newspaper with the most ads in it is one that’s barely read with almost no real news at all.  It’s decimated the Seaway News and Freeholder for local ads.   A city led boycott has killed most advertisers on this newspaper and frightened other businesses, some of whom are struggling, for fear of retribution; for example, not getting permits if the business’ ad is on CFN.

There is a cancer in the community and it’s not coming from Big Ben. That’s a whole other issue although still connected.

Certain media will simply not cover some of these ills for fear of losing what ad dollars they do get.   It’s a business and they are owned by large chains who care about the bottom line.  The local Corus radio outlet has been decimated since one of their announcers let the former mayor have it on his last day.   Their newsroom closed shortly after and there have been allegations of large staffing cuts.

The Public Art Gallery shut down after 36 years of history, 30 of those in the same downtown location on Pitt Street.

It died with barely a whimper from the public.    In fact a last minute funding proposal was coming through outside sources, but at the end of the day the question was asked,

“Why take money from good and well meaning people if the locals don’t care about their own gallery?”

It was a valid question, but with the “paid” media hacking away for City Hall, who had cut funding for two years to zero, there were no editorials to save the gallery, but instead a hack like Hugo Rodrigues writing a column suggesting the gallery, a charity, was in fact not a public gallery.

River King owner Steve Moreau and his family lost an estimated $1M + on their tenure of ownership.  In the statement below they cite a lack of community support leading to investors backing out.   The Cornwall franchise had the largest attendance in the league, and the biggest arena.

The Kings had huge artificial hurdles to over come though.   Chiefly the city itself, instead of supporting the team, who contributed more cash to the coffers than the minor league Colts, were essentially gouging the team while after much hand wringing at council, allowing them to gain 30% of the board incomes on this term of council, hardly enough to make an impact on the cash needed simply to break even.

The team was precluded from earning money from beer sales and sponsorship allegedly because of the rinks catering contract.

In other LNAH communities, cities actually would give some form of cash support yearly for all of the positive spin offs.

In Cornwall the team couldn’t even get reasonable practice ice time!

From the River Kings facebook page:

In an effort to save a dying team we put our businesses on the line in the hopes to save a team we loved. In the end, it didn’t materialize. In fact, it drained us so much financially that we had to close our other businesses as the loses were way more than what we projected. The Kings originally had investors who stepped up and offered assistance with the same hopes, however after seeing dismal attendance last year, dismal season ticket sales (both last year and this upcoming season) and a lack of community support from the majority of people and businesses in Cornwall, it was very difficult to convince investors to continue when the very community where the team lives wont support them.

There’s that term.   Lack of community support.

Sure there are a core group of people who believe, support and drive to make it work, but it was simply not enough. For this upcoming season we have sold less than 125 season tickets and have only 5 sponsors. Do the math? This isn’t even enough to buy new uniforms to start the season let alone pay for anything else required like insurance, bus rentals, ice time, etc. At the end of last season, it was made clear we need $700,000 to run the team for a season and we all had to step up to make it work. But through-out the summer the response to assist the team wasn’t there.

Our 500 ticket 5-day drive resulted in less than 20 tickets sold. Through out the summer sponsors backed out or flat out refused to help. How do you convince investors to stay on board with results like this? You can’t. People won’t invest in a team the community wont invest in. In the middle of this past week, all of our investors backed out.

Now the team relied far too much on social media which really isn’t a replacement for advertising, but they did have media support from CFN and the Freeholder.   20 tickets isn’t a lot of tickets and certainly isn’t a sign to ownership.

We have a fantastic team this season. We have the best support with Bob and Rick. Yet here we are with nothing to show for it and nothing to start a season with. We were let in a position where we had no choice but to not start the season.

So far there has been lots of rumours, gossip and hearsay going around. Accusations of “taking the money and running” unfortunately the sad truth is, there is no money. All investors backed out. Current Season Ticket sales covered off season expenses. We could easily pull a fast move like previous ownership and declare bankruptcy for the Kings and walk away. We didn’t. Instead we are offering people their money back but it will be personal money coming out of our own pockets to make sure you get back what you didn’t get and it will take time for us to recover from the losses and get it back to you. Call me what you will. Insult me as much as you want. In the end, I have ALWAYS lived up to my word with this team and I ALWAYS will.

Again, since last season Mr. Moreau has clearly stated the community needed to step up.   The community clearly did not.

I don’t expect many of you will bother to try and understand what everyone who worked with the team went through this summer to try and make it work. In fact, some of you will try to rip this post apart and claim some hidden agenda, which I can assure there never has been and never will be one. We just tried to make this team work. Some of you will just bitch and complain, accuse and point fingers, deny and slander but in the end, everyone who was part of this team tried their hardest and we did not succeed. We all want the team as much as you do, we just cannot do it alone and made this clear at the end of last season.

So where do we go from here?

CFN spoke to Denis Boisvert from the LNAH who said a decision would be made Monday night.

The LNAH was informed early this morning that the Cornwall River Kings put an end to their activities and will not commence the 2016-2017 season.
The Board of Governors of the LNAH accordingly met in the early evening to hold a telephone conference on the future of this franchise. Already, various scenarios were considered in order to retain the team and start next season with eight teams.
The LNAH has given until Monday evening to make a final decision on this important issue. An emergency meeting of the Board of Governors will be held and all scenarios will be presented to the owners.
Until then, the LNAH will make no further comment.

rk ice

You can wash away a presence as this photo above seems to be showing of the River Kings logo before the Monday night meeting, but at the end of the day what does it say about a community that cannot or will not support basic institutions such as public art galleries and hockey teams?

While it’s no secret that the community is suffering economically from an utter lack of development and a brutal local government that has literally chased away business small, and large, is it time for people to step up and start to demand change?

We’re running out of things to lose in Cornwall.    This Kincentric clannishness about our city has to end if the community ever is to progressively move forward or become attractive for people other than offenders getting out of jail looking for cheap sub standard housing.

Instead of people like Gerry Benson, and various Kanebs asking for hand outs, and getting, them from council for vanity University projects it might be time for some of those folk to write some cheques to pump up and support our community?

Sadly history shows the odds of them doing so are not terribly strong…..

Last one out flick the lights please.

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