The pandemic has caused many businesses to shut their doors and left countless other struggling. The sports world is often not grouped in that category, but that perception is far from the truth.

On a national level, billions have been lost due to the pandemic, and locally, the Tri-City Americans of still weathering that storm.

"It's been a stressful time for everyone since the pandemic started obviously," said Americans General Manager Bob Tory. "We had to lay almost everyone off."

The WHL and Washington Department of Health announced the upcoming season would start on March 19th. However, fans will not be allowed to attend. The WHL is a ticket driven league, so without the revenue coming in from ticket sales, there's still the fixed operating costs. Tory said the bare bones operation costs come out to roughly $50,000 a month.

"There's still scouting expenses," said Tory. "There's still some payroll. There's equipment, insurance,and fixed costs that there's no way around. When you don't have cash coming in, it makes it difficult."

When we talk about a "ticket driven" league, it means that the business model relies on that income in their yearly budget. In fact, Tory says it accounts for about 70% of their yearly revenue. The organization has gotten creative in finding ways to close that revenue gap.

"We're looking at selling rink board advertising and rink advertising at least on one side of the rink where the cameras can pick up the advertising," said Tory. "We're looking at clings that you see behind me for fans to get involved. We're looking at putting up some alumni banners in the practice rink."
 
Costs will only go up as the season approaches, but Tory says that's the reality they are facing. The true bottom line is the longevity of the developmental program in this community.
 
"There's a tremendous cost there,"said Tory about the season happening without fans, "but we're providing development for our players and at least maintaining a niche in the market which is important for the future. We're going to have a big recovery year for the next two, three, four years."
 
Fans can still watch all the home games on SWX. To learn more about cling wraps or alumni banners, reach out to the Tri-City Americans.
 
There's also a group called #FansofAmsNation holding a fan-driven fundraising effort. Click HERE to learn more.