The Acadie-Bathurst Titan are for sale.
The Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League team announced Sunday that the ownership group is looking for a buyer that would keep the team in northern New Brunswick.
Team president Serge Thériault says there have been financial struggles for the past 10 years and the pandemic made it even more difficult for ownership.
"It comes down to revenue," Thériault said at a press conference announcing the decision. "We are a little bit short on the revenue side."
He said the team needs more fans at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre. He said if more fans come it will encourage others, but it will take time and investment.
The team has hired Ernst & Young to facilitate the sale to a new owner or at least a new majority shareholder.
Serge Thériault is the Acadie-Bathurst Titan team president. (Radio-Canada/François Vigneault)
The Titan have been in Bathurst since 1998 and have been owned by the same group since 2013.
The team has had some success on the ice since arriving in Bathurst, including QMJHL championships in 1999 and 2018 and a Memorial Cup title in 2018.
League commissioner Mario Cecchini, who attended Sunday's event, promised that the league is committed to keeping the team in the area.
"There is never a guarantee for the next 25 years for any team in any sport, but short term I would certainly veto an owner that would come in with the wish to move the team." he said. "That's not on the table."
At least 5,000 people from the area lined the streets to celebrate when the Titan won the Memorial Cup, (Radio-Canada)
Part of Bathurst
Irenée Frenette of Petit-Rocher, just north of Bathurst, has been a fan and season ticket holder of the Titan since the team arrived in 1998.
"When the team wins games and everyone is there, whether you're from the peninsula, from Chaleur, from the Restigouche, it's like we're all family," said Frenette, who attended Sunday's press conference. "Everyone gets along. It's a good atmosphere. With all the bad news these days, it's nice to come watch hockey and talk to people and everyone is in a good mood."
Frenette said that with good marketing, "I think we can sort this out."
Luc Foulem, communications manager for Bathurst, echoes that sentiment.
He said the team is an important part of the social and sporting fabric of the city. He said that players who wore the Titan jersey come back and visit the area year after year because of how they were received by the community.
"There's a strong history with the team dating back to 1998. Everybody remembers the two Presidents' Cups," said Foulem. "Everyone remembers the Memorial Cup. We will never lose those elements and it's important to able to have that and maintain that."
Luc Foulem says the Acadie-Bathurst Titan are an important part of the city and region. (Gail Harding/CBC)
The city has been a part of making sure the team stays in the region. In 2021, city officials signed an agreement to invest up to $275,000 over five years.
At the time, Mayor Kim Chamberlain said the team's struggling financial situation caused the city to act.
"This is the foundation for future steps to ensure that the Titan is here to stay," she said.
Thériault still believes a team can be profitable in Bathurst. He said it will take the right ownership group, along with the support of fans.
"We love this team, we love the area, and we want to make it work and we believe it can work," said Thériault.