CORNWALL – The Cornwall Nationals hockey team has folded, at least for this season.
Owner Rodney Rivette said that the Federal Hockey League team can no longer continue “due to our financial situation.”
“After last weekend, we can’t keep losing money like this. We needed more support. We didn’t have enough support to get through the season. Will’s health (owner Will Beauvais) is not good and this wasn’t helping any, so it was time to say, okay that’s enough, and pull the plug,” Rivette said in an interview with Cornwall Newswatch.
Beauvais has been the sole financial backer for the team since December 2017, Rivette indicated.
Rivette said they could have “gotten away with 1,000 to 1,200 fans” at the beginning of the season. “But, with the travel in January, just insurmountable. It was so much (money) going out and nothing coming in for a month and we weren’t getting the fan attendance we needed,” he said.
He appreciates the support of the fans and the sponsors “but, at the end of the day, it just took more fans in the stands to keep us alive.”
Saturday’s game drew 358 fans – the last game for the team at the Ed Lumley Arena. The attendance had been around 600 for previous games up had dropped to around 500 and then fewer this past weekend.
Rivette said the Federal Hockey League has “left the door open” for the future of the team and he is not ruling out bringing back the Nationals next season. “I don’t know what the future is going to hold. It’s all pretty fresh.”
When asked if the players were paid up until Saturday’s game, Rivette said he “didn’t really want to comment on the players. The players worked hard for us. I can’t say enough about them.”
As for people with season tickets and box seats, Rivette said he is not sure what will happen given the “financial crunch.”
Rivette says his first order of business Wednesday morning will be speaking with the City of Cornwall about the lease agreement for the Ed Lumley Arena.
The organization is thanking its “small but loyal fan base” as well as local sponsors and volunteers.
The Cornwall Nationals were in the middle of their second season and had signed three-time FHL champion Ahmed Mahfouz this year to be the team’s captain.
“Thank you to the fans, the players, the volunteers, the sponsors, our staff and Willy for keeping us going as long as we could. Who knows what the future holds.”