Bees Will Return

Chris-Wiggins-Bracknell-Bees
The Bracknell Bees are a storied club in British ice hockey. Their Superleague success is one of the biggest underdog stories in sporting history. Like many of sides since then they have struggled but their loyal, hardworking fans have stuck around and saved the club themselves on many occasions. They are a credit to Bracknell and the Bees struggles are not done to them.
It does have to be asked why there isn’t a bigger corporate backing though. Bracknell is a semi industrial on the edge of the M25 with a number of business. There is a lack of sporting competition in the area. Bracknell itself does not have top flight football team for example. The nearest top sporting competition in terms of sponsorship would be in Reading 12 miles away with both football and rugby.
It could be argued that there is an abundance of hockey in the area. Rinks at Slough, Guildford and Basingstoke are all in close proximity but that ignores the Bees set up. Bracknell has a successful junior and women’s set ups that produces a great deal of talent and must show there is a potential for footfall if a stable club could be sustained.
Like all sports teams not just hockey clubs they could do better at developing their business strategy and presence in the area but that is always difficult without a full time staff and backing. The Bees struggles have also attracted lots of local and social media attention which at least highlights the club.
Ice hockey is not the only sport struggling for sponsorship and backing. Up the road from the Bees were the Reading Racers Speedway team. They closed in 2008 despite being top flight finalists in 2006 with falling attendances due to a lack of investment in the stadium and infrastructure. Another example of a lack of corporate support and backing.
Whilst it is wonderful how well fans rally round their team when times get tough in the modern environment it is clear that fan support can only go so far. Backing of business is needed to provide a stable and competitive club. How you secure that backing is increasingly difficult but business must realise the benefit to their staff and the community of local sports teams. Those teams provide so much in return from junior clubs to a reason for people to visit an area.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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