Perth Thunder is celebrating recent wins both on and off the ice, with national finals in sight and the signing of its first naming rights sponsor last month.
Sponsoring an ice hockey team may not appear the most obvious fit for a business in Western Australia, but scrap metal recycler CD Dodd says its deal with Perth Thunder has presented a worthwhile opportunity.
The family business has backed the state’s semi-professional ice hockey team for the past five years, sponsoring Perth Thunder since its inaugural season in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) in 2012.
CD Dodd chief executive Chris Dodd said the business had increased its commitment year on year, with signage of its logo displayed around the rink at Malaga’s Perth Ice Arena (where the team is based) and on the official uniforms.
The business became the team’s first naming rights sponsor in May.
“People thought I was completely insane the first year we sponsored,” Mr Dodd told Business News.
“Ice hockey wasn’t a known sport (in Perth), it is more now, and when people thought of Perth Ice Arena they pictured ice skating discos, not national league ice hockey.
“We love the sport, and you’ve got a whole mix of people coming to these games, so it’s a great marketing tool; you can access all walks of life in one hit.”
Although not a part of the sponsorship arrangement, Mr Dodd said several of his staff volunteered their time at home games, selling merchandise and handing out promotional products, which Mr Dodd said had helped develop team spirit within the group.
And having another sports avenue to entertain its clients had proved valuable for the business, which was also a sponsor of the state’s rugby union team, Western Force.
“If you put all your eggs into one basket things can fall apart very quickly,” Mr Dodd said.
“You’ve got to remember the grassroots sports as well as the high profile.
“It’s the ethos of our small family business that’s grown over time – to work with the community and grow together.”
The team now has 12 corporate partners and Perth Thunder general manager Stan Scott said CD Dodd’s larger commitment would particularly help with running costs, such as flying players interstate.
Perth Thunder was founded in 2010 with backing from initial capital pledged by Mr Scott and several other private funders.
A year later, Perth Thunder was granted an AIHL provisional licence and then competed as the league’s ninth team in the 2012 season.
It has since appeared in three finals, and Mr Scott said another place in finals was possible, with the team currently ranked third on the 2017 ladder.
“We started Perth Thunder because we had a lot of talent in the state,” Mr Scott told Business News.
“We’ve come from a bunch of local league players and administrators to being a semi-professional organisation and one of the best teams undoubtedly in the competition.
“It’s lifted the development, the (local association) membership and it has lifted the profile of the sport in WA.”
Mr Scott said WA had one of the best development programs nationally, which provided a sustainable talent pool, and that the number of local association players had more than doubled since Perth Thunder started – from over 250 to more than 600 members of all ages.
Continued growth for Perth Thunder was limited by the current facility, he said, which sold out most games but only catered to 800 spectators.
“The Wildcats moving to Perth Arena certainly helped their growth, promotion, development and sponsorship,” Mr Scott said.
“If we had a horseshoe facility for 3,000 people we’d sell it – we set a record of 2,800 when we played a game at Perth Arena before the (2016) USA v Canada, series so we know the audience is there.
“We want to grow; we’d like our own designated facility, more media support and to be national champions.”
Mr Scott said discussions were under way to potentially live stream games via a monetised platform.
The AIHL is televised on Fox Sports every week, though not every game.
Perth Thunder is mostly volunteer-driven and Mr Scott is seeking more corporate partner opportunities to support the team’s evolution.