BC Hockey League vows to play this season with, or without fans

BCHL unveils Plan B

The BC Hockey League says there will be a 2020-2021 hockey season, whether fans are allowed to watch, or not.

In a news release Friday, chairman of the board Graham Fraser stated governors voted unanimously this week to approve a "Plan B" return to play scenario.

Under this scenario, if fans are not allowed to return to arenas by the planned restart in December, players and their parents will be required to pay a fee to play.

Teams would also lean on sponsorships and government funding support to get through the season.

The current plan is to return to play at the beginning of December with 25 per cent capacity inside each arena.

“Our main objective remains to play a season, no matter what, but our original goal of starting in December with 25 per cent capacity in our buildings is in jeopardy,” said Fraser.

“This new scenario allows us to have a fall-back plan if that does not occur. Even if we end up going with the alternative, we may have the opportunity to introduce fans into the stands later in the season and into the playoffs, which would, in turn, reduce costs for the players and their families.” 

Should the BCHL be forced to resort to Plan B, they would do so with a reduced schedule.

“The fact that we are prepared to play a season without fans does not mean we no longer require financial support from the government,” said BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb.

“Player fees will give our teams the ability to survive, but our owners are preparing to take a financial hit to ensure we get to play regular-season games in 2020-21. If anything, this only increases our need for corporate and government support."

Hebb added asking parents to pay an additional fee for their kids to play is strictly COVID-19 related, and will be scrapped once the league returns to business as usual.

League officials say teams will do their best to reduce fees players will be required to pay through other funding and sponsorships.

Individual teams will determine how much those fees are.

Despite being three months away from playing, teams around the league are in the midst of training camps.

Some teams have already announced exhibition tournaments, including the Island Division, which will hold a division-wide tournament beginning early next month.

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