City won't release Abbotsford Heat budget, public will be updated once a year

Taxpayers have to wait until summer to find out if they'll financially support the Abbotsford Heat for a second year.

City manager Frank Pizzuto has no plans to release details of the AHL hockey club's 2010/11 budget, until the season is over and final figures are calculated.

The contract between the owners of the Heat and the city guarantees the hockey squad will break even, up to a maximum annual budget of $5.7 million. If the club falls short of that goal, the city will pay the difference.

Last February, when the contract details were made public, projections released by the city predicted a shortfall of $275,000. Final figures eventually pushed that number to $450,637.

This year no numbers are being released ahead of time.

"We know that the supply fee is $5.7 million and that it won't increase," said Pizzuto. "It's premature to speculate (on this season). There are still games to play and playoffs."

While the maximum amount is set, the Heat could have a smaller budget, in which case the fee would also be reduced. But with no confirmation of the budget and no financial projections forthcoming, taxpayers can only wait and guess on the outcome.

After 26 home games, the Heat are averaging 3,492 fans per game. That places the club 29th in a league of 30. Last year the local squad averaged 3,897 per game over the 40 game schedule. That averages out to 405 less fans a game this year.

While attendance is down, Pizzuto said there has been an improvement this year in sponsorships, but would not discuss details.

He said the Heat is a private business and information exchanged between the two organizations will remain confidential.

"The public will receive yearly updates."

If the hockey team meets its budget, the first $200,000 in profit goes directly to the city to pay for ice time. Any additional profit is divided 60/40 between the Heat and the city.

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