Effort to keep Clippers in Nanaimo reaches 'do or die time'

By Dominic Abassi
March 27, 2017 - 5:45pm

Mike Vandekamp says he's hearing support for his team in the community, but it's time for someone to put some money on the table.Nanaimo Clippers

NANAIMO — Comeback efforts are something Clippers head coach Mike Vandekamp has seen many times over his long career — but much like the bid to keep the team in Nanaimo, someone has to step up and be the hero.

Vandekamp told NanaimoNewsNOW there have been discussions with "10 or 12 different people" since the current ownership group set a deadline of the end of the month to find local investors or the team would likely move. While the process is "moving in the right direction," Vandekamp said they are not at a point where they have a concrete offer to take to majority owner Ken Wagner.

"There's definitely been a list of people," Vandekamp said. "(They) are kicking tires but we need commitment at this point. It's do or die time here for the Clippers in Nanaimo. We need to make sure the tire kicking becomes something solid, so the next few days are really important."

He said there has been a diverse range of people showing interest, including business owners looking for cross exposure, people in the local hockey community and alumni or people with a connection to the program.

While Vandekamp said the perfect scenario would be one person or group stepping in to buy the entire ownership share, the timeline placed on them by the current owners created a need to explore different options.

"We need significant investment locally, that's what we're looking at more than anything. It's not necessarily about the whole thing happening right away, it's about the community stepping up and us being able to add local ownership to the team in a large amount, in a significant way."

Vandekamp and Nanaimo-based team president and minority owner David LeNeveu hope to have a proposal to take to Wagner by the end of the week. "(The) pending sale to move the team to a different location on the island...that deal had a date on it so we have to respect that," Vandekamp said.

"This is a really important week for us to be able to have something in place to form some kind of agreement with the current ownership they can accept to keep the team here."

Since the March 16 announcement the club may move or cease operations in Nanaimo, Vandekamp said he has learned something about the local hockey community.

"The vibe has been, 'you know what Mike, there's more support out there than you think.' There's a lot of people...that really want to see this team stay and they believe in the program and the history. It's time for people to step up and show that, that's the key.

"That's all fine and dandy, but we need more than that at this point. We need a financial commitment...that's what we've been fighting hard to find."

-with files from Dan Marshall


[email protected]

On Twitter: @domabassi

VIU exploring jump to elite level of university athletics