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To avoid the fate of the Growlers, the Rogues need more support from fans and sponsors, says the owner

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The Newfoundland Rogues will play their first game on November 27th in St. John's.The Newfoundland Rogues will play their first game on November 27th in St. John's.

The Newfoundland Rogues will play their first game on November 27th in St. John's.

The Newfoundland Rogues are the only remaining professional sports team in the province after the Growlers disbanded last week. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The demise of the Newfoundland Growlers ice hockey team last week means there is now only one professional sports franchise in the province – the Newfoundland Rogues of the Basketball Super League.

Team owner Tony Kenny told CBC News the situation with the Growlers was sad, but he was not surprised.

“We need the support not only of the fans, but also of the corporate sponsors, the community, the province and the city of St. John's,” he said of running a professional sports team in St. John's. “Everyone has to do their part to make a franchise successful.”

Former Newfoundland Growlers owner Dean MacDonald told CBC News last week that the hockey team failed due to conflicts with St. John's city officials and financial difficulties resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maintaining a basketball team is cheaper, Kenny said. It costs only about a fifth of the cost of a hockey team. But financial support from sponsors like the city is still crucial, he said.

Owner Tony Kenny expressed confidence on Wednesday that fans will get used to the new team.Owner Tony Kenny expressed confidence on Wednesday that fans will get used to the new team.

Owner Tony Kenny expressed confidence on Wednesday that fans will get used to the new team.

Rogues owner Tony Kenny says the team needs the support of fans and sponsors to avoid a similar fate to the Growlers. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The team plays at least 25 home games, which also attracts business travelers to the city center.

Kenny said that ultimately it is up to the fans and sponsors to decide whether it is worth continuing the team.

The players also put in work off the field, participating in community events with various organizations across the province and providing a place for young people interested in the sport to work toward.

“We visit a lot of schools and a lot of clubs,” said Kenny. “We will be going to Labrador, Sheshatshiu, for the second time to play there and give the Eagles a camp so they can play basketball there.”

That is the value of professional sport in the province, said Kenny.

“We need support, definitely need support. We need fans,” he said. “We need the basketball community and an invitation to all the people who cheered on the Growlers.”

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