Sometimes I am asked questions about the Neepawa Natives hockey team.


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Who owns the team?

The team follows a common model for Neepawa, you own the team in much the same way as the Yellowhead Centre, the Neepawa Curling Club and the Neepawa Golf and Country Club. All four organizations are run by an elected board selected at their respective annual meetings.

In the case of the Neepawa Natives, the team started in 1989 under private ownership that evolved over the years to a point where a single owner, Gaynor Vivian owned the team. In 2008, Vivian turned the team over to the community on a 10 year agreement that, should the team be sold, that after all the bills were paid, up to $100,000 would be paid to him. The agreement was secured by a promissory note for $100,000. The team stayed under community ownership past the 10 years  so that agreement is fulfilled and the note came off the books.

Don’t Ken and Christine Waddell make a lot of money off the team?

No, it actually costs us money and a lot of time, but we are dedicated to the team and our community.

The Neepawa Banner & Press have always been a sponsor to the team since its inception in 1989. Currently the Neepawa Banner &  Press give a $5000 sponsorship to the team. The paper charges the team for some printing services and any advertising is usually offered at half price. In addition, Ken and Christine Waddell have lent the the team $40,000 to help out when funds have run low.

Does the team make money?

Well, sometimes but sometimes not. Over the 11 years of community operations the team has made money four years out of eleven but has averaged a loss of $20,028 per year. Therefore the team debt is about $200,000 as of 2018.

What does the team do for me or Neepawa or the Yellowhead or anybody?

These two pages help to answer that question. The economic impact is significant. Neepawa can boast that in spite of being in a very small market, we have a Junior “A” hockey club.

How can the team do better?

Obviously the team would like to do better on the ice. Making the play-offs is a very desirable goal and our staff have always been dedicated to that.

Getting there

The team has a good list of talented players. The team staff listed on these pages, along with earlier staff have always been dedicated to the team’s success. We need to encourage our staff and players every way we can to achieve success.

Team debt?

As a community, we need to get the “debt monkey” off the team’s back. The implementation of a travel fee will generate $38,000 more income and that will help. Neepawa is taking a leadership role in that it is one of three Manitoba Junior Hockey League teams that have implemented a fee of some kind. The other two are Winnipeg and Selkirk.  Many leagues charge a fee, sometimes as much a $6000 per player. The board feels that fees will come very soon all across Canada. It’s just a reality that recognizes a need for enough team income to provide a good hockey environment including the game day experience, safe travel along with player development and education.

The team’s debt, at about $200,000 is low compared to many teams. It has cost some teams a lot more than that to get a team and keep it running. The debt load needs to be re-formatted and the board approved a debt plan at the end of 2017 that is being worked on throughout the current year. In most communities the team debt is carried by 20 or even 50 community members. Neepawa currently has 10 lenders and needs about 14 more to even out the load and pay off the bank. The board’s debt plan will save a lot of money in bank interest and service charges and place the team on a firm footing for many years to come.

Pages 9 and 10 compliments of the Neepawa Banner & Press.