Community involvement is the only way the new junior hockey league team will be successful.
That is what Vic Tarana, Jamestown Area Hockey Associates treasurer, said about the new team that will start playing games in September at the Jamestown Saving Bank Arena. In March, it was announced a local group of area business owners had purchased a new team that will be playing in the North American 3 Hockey League, which is a Tier 3 league. The team will be moving from Fraser, Mich., where it was known as the Michigan Mountain Cats.
Tarana said the first step in getting the community involved in a new team was to form the Jamestown Area Hockey Associates. The Jamestown Area Hockey Associates has 13 local owners which include Gene Aversa, Jim Campion, George Carlson, Jim Cirbus, Chuck Hall, John LaMancuso, Tom McFall, Chuck McGowan, Tim Shults, Chris Smith, Randy Stuart, Tim Trageser and Tarana. Tarana said the new hockey team will be different than the ones in the past because of the local purchasing group.
"They're all community business people. That makes it a significantly different situation compared to previous hockey teams in the arena," Tarana said.
The second way to get the community involved in the new team was a name-the-team contest. Last month, there was a contest where people could submit three team name ideas. The winner will receive two season tickets and access to additional perks during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Tarana said the team name announcement will be happening soon.
"Naming the team was getting the community involved," Tarana said. "It has been selected, and by a local person who has given us the name that we will be using."
"We are being very aggressive to make it affordable for people."
Tarana said arena officials have been working to reach out to local business owners for sponsorship. Tarana, along with his wife, Brenda, owns TAR Enterprises, which operates the four local Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shops. Tarana said there will be a Tim Hortons section where people will have opportunities to win gift cards and other items like Timbits. Also, he said Shults Auto Group is a major sponsor with advertising on the arena window facing Third Street.
"The arena staff is working on contacting a number of advertisers," Tarana said. "We are looking for major businesses to step forward. We would like people who want to support the team to contact us. We are more than willing to talk to them. This is only going to be successful if local businesses support the team."
Jamestown Area Hockey Associates will also be working to keep prices affordable for local people. Tarana said there is a plan for a season ticket costing around $99 for more than 20 games, which also includes a mug for a free drink during each game. Also, a family package for four people for $25, which would also include a beverage or food item for each person.
"It is going to be a great weekend event for the community," he said. "We are being very aggressive to make it affordable for people."
Tarana said the new ownership group will continue working with local youth hockey groups. He said the new junior hockey league team will allow for more opportunity for local youth hockey players. Tarana said a lot of the ownership group has been involved in local youth hockey for years. He said he was involved for 18 years, with Cirbus, Stuart and McFall also being involved for a number of years.
"It will be a great opportunity that after they play with the Lakers they can move on and be involved in something else, which would be the league we have," he said. "If the kid is a quality player, he can play on the team and it will be a great opportunity to get a scholarship from a college. The ultimate goal is to give good, performing hockey players an opportunity to take the next step forward."
By the middle of August, Tarana said all the sponsorships and supporters of the new team should be in line for the start of the season in September. For more information on the new team, visit www.jamestownarena.com or call 484-2624.