Crowdfunding Troubled Hockey Team

    It was not your usual startup pitching event – this investment event at a hockey stadium was determining the future of one of the most well-known hockey teams in Finland

    The home arena for the hockey team Espoon Blues has had some difficulties keeping up with the cost of maintenance, and the team found themselves in a tight spot at the end of 2015.

    A collaboration between Finpro and Invesdor brought people over to the Espoo Metro Arena on the night of March first – just before the match between Blues and Kalpa – where an investment event was held by the new management of the Blues. The hockey team needs funding to keep themselves in the Finnish premier league, Liiga.

    “The goal for us at the Metro arena is to get around 5000 viewers coming to around 20 games and to reach out to the community and keep them engaged also,” says Tage Johansson, the chairman of Espoon Blues.

    When the clock struck 17:30, the occasion got started in one of the conference rooms at the Metro Areena. In a quiet setting the audience – which consisted mostly of loyal fans and active members of the hockey community in Espoo – found their seats to hear the news.

    The atmosphere was a little cautious and the term crowdfunding struck silence for many until representatives from Invesdor explained the concept. There were occasional questions, but the sensing the environment, we got the feeling that the loyal fans were there to hear and see the new managements approach on how to handle the future and keep the team in the Liiga. There was clearly some distrust in the air.

    Teuvo Metsäpelto, 66-year-old dear friend of hockey, was among the first ones to enter the event. Teuvo has been following the scene since 1974, when he moved to Espoo.

    “I’m happy that I can consciously act and apply a broader commitment to the club. I have had a season pass for tens of years, and even though the best years of Blues are in the past, maybe in the future… But we still have incredible talent in the juniors who are almost all in the best 5 teams and top players pop out from Metro arena like in a factory,” Metsäpelto says while smiling widely and tells he has already invested to the team.

    “I invested to support the juniors and to keep up the rivalry between HIFK and Blues. I want to see a winter-classic between them both.”

    “Lock the expenses, collect the revenue and bring in new people”

    With the support of fans like Metsäpelto, Blues has so far secured around a third of the desired amount already.

    “Lock the expenses, collect the revenue and bring in new people,” states Tage Johansson, the chairman of board of directors, during his monologue. The energy has been focused towards the future – admittedly mistakes were made in the past – but with new people and a new mindset, the future of Espoon Blues will be brighter, Johansson explains.

    To get back the trust of the fans, the sports team shared openly their plans – just like a company – including new strategy applied to the products, brand, sales and the general economical structure for Blues.

    “Our junior department is in great condition, our juniors are an investment for the future.”

    When the puck hits the ice, some of the management personnel got engaged in feedback and interaction with the fans. Most of the attendees already had secured themselves a seat to cheer Blues to a victory. Maybe this is turning over a leaf for Blues, since the game result was at the end 2-1 for the home team.