ELORA – A return to true home ice will be better for the Elora Rocks both on and off the ice, said the team’s president.
On Friday, the senior hockey team is back at the Jefferson Elora Community Centre for the first time this season after the arena went through an extensive renovation lasting most of 2023.
The team started its third season in the Western Ontario Super Hockey League playing home games at the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex in Fergus.
“This level of hockey at this stage in the game, people really just want to play in their hometown, especially the locals,” said team president Rich Wigmore.
Wigmore is very grateful for the fans who have continued to come out while they were in Fergus, but acknowledged they didn’t get the 200 to 300 fans coming out each game like when they were in Elora.
“One of the big draws is having people come out and socially drink and watch young, talented hockey players and in Fergus they couldn’t do that as easily,” Wigmore said, using having to get a cab as an example.
Less fans at the game led to a decline in revenue, meaning less money to put towards a township debt inherited from the previous Elora Rocks owners when the team was in a different league.
Wigmore explained the organization tries to direct sponsorship towards paying for ice time and the program and the revenue from games goes towards that debt.
A team like the Elora Rocks isn’t meant to be a money-making operation, Wigmore said, but the hope is to break even which has proven difficult under these circumstances.
It hasn’t been the easiest run for the team, starting its first season with COVID restrictions limiting the number of attendees at times playing catch-up from that the following year and then seeing less fans when playing in Fergus but Wigmore is looking on the positive side of things as the team returns to home games in Elora in a newly-renovated space.
“It’s better in multiple ways, better for the fans, better for the players and better for the team’s bottom line,” Wigmore said.
The puck drops at the Jefferson Elora Community Centre at 8:30 p.m. on Friday with the Rocks taking on the Petrolia Squires.