T-Bird owner talks about team’s future
June 10, 2015
Rumours have been rampant that the reigning Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League champion Soo Thunderbirds are on the verge of ceasing operations for the 2015-2016 season.
But while folding the team does not appear to be the plan, the franchise is on the market.
As HockeyNewsNorth.com first reported that the Thunderbirds are indeed for sale, owner Albert Giommi confirmed that he is “committed to continuing to find someone to take over the operations” of the NOJHL team.
“We are currently working through some logistical operations and are continuing on our focus of keeping a junior A hockey team in Sault Ste Marie,” Giommi told HockeyNewsNorth.com.
“I have always made it very clear that I was not staying involved forever and as you have been so kind to assist in your past article, I am trying to find others that may be interested in continuing with a very successful junior A hockey program,” added Giommi, who has been with the Thunderbirds as a major sponsor since they entered the NOJHL in 1999.
Meanwhile, Giommi noted that while the NOJHL is poised to be a 12-team league in 2015-2016 that includes the return of the cross-river Soo Eagles after three seasons in the North American Hockey League, the Thunderbirds need to play out of an arena that is suited for the junior A brand.
“The NOJHL has come a very long ways in the last four years and the Soo Eagles coming back into the league will make for some very exciting hockey,” Giommi began.
“But,” he continued, “the Thunderbirds need a proper barn to play out of — one that is suited for a junior A hockey team.
“The Essar Centre has great seating but is way too large. John Rhodes Arena not only needs more seating but more comfortable seating and a media box.
“There are two locations that I believe that the Birds should play out of — either the Pee Wee Arena or Rankin Arena,” Giommi concluded.
What you think about “T-Bird owner talks about team’s future”
Hard to run a team as well I would think when the OHL is in town. I really like both the choices that Giommo listed. The Peewee Arena,although older, is a great arena with seating on both sides. The Rankin Arena might be the better choice though. Hopefully things work out for the T-Birds.
I used to attend almost every home game of the Thunderbirds when kids were free. Last year ticket prices for adults were raised to $12, and kids were no longer free. What was once a cheap night out for our family went from $20 to almost doubled. Many other families that my kids play hockey with were in the same boat(price wise), simply not affordable to attend as many games.
I agree that John Rhodes is not the best location for them to play out of. Rankin would make a great place for the Thunderbirds to call home.
Hopefully this all gets sorted out as Junior A hockey is needed in our community.
I used to attend almost every single home game when the price was $10 for adults and children free at the Essar. Last season ticket prices were raised and children were no longer free. What was once an inexpensive fun night out for me and the family was not so much anymore.
I know a lot of people who my boys play hockey that were unable to attend as many games for this very reason. I wonder if this had any affect on attendance numbers?
A agree that the Rhodes was not ideal for the T-Birds to call home. The Peewee and Rankin are both great options. Although it may be quite difficult to obtain the ice time needed at the peewee.
You can clearly see a lot of empty seats at the Essar Centre. The Thunderbirds a winning team on the ice year after year, but attendance is not there at all. The Thunderbirds still get sponsorship support to carry the team.