Bauer Canada's 'Grow the Game' initiative helps ease parents' concerns with the price of hockey

CC-HockeySome parents are hesitant in enrolling their children in hockey because of the high cost, but Bauer Canada's Grow the Game initiative has partnered with Hockey Calgary and other local minor hockey associations across Canada to help ease their hesitancy.

Northwest Calgary Athletic Association president Ty Snaith says the cost factor of hockey is high, especially for elite hockey teams.

"Hockey in this country is becoming an elites sport because a lot of people just can't afford it," says Snaith.

Snaith says the parents of kids playing for midget or bantam AAA hockey teams are paying around $6,000 to $7,000 a year to have their kid in hockey.

That's not quite what hockey dad Jeff Shugg is paying – although the final bill is still costly.

Both Shugg's sons play hockey, with one of them recreationally, while the other plays on a AA league.

Shugg says he paid $1,500 in league fees for the team itself as well as $400 in cash calls, which are expenses for away games.

Shugg also spent $1,000 on hockey equipment just last year and on average he says he buys a new set of equipment every two years.

"When the kids were younger and I wasn't making as much money, it was harder. We tried to buy used equipment from friends if their kids outgrew it," says Shugg.

But for Shugg, the costs of hockey are worth it for his sons.CC-HockeyBauer Canada and Hockey Calgary have partnered to hep bring hockey to players by lessening the cost to play.

Photo courtesy of Battle Creek CVB/Flickr

"For me, because I lived and breathed hockey and I played hockey for so long and I still play hockey, I have a lot of things I identify as values that I think is worth it," says Shugg.

For other parents who don't have the same attachment to hockey as Shugg, the above costs can be alarming.

However, those costs are lower with Bauer's First Shift program as part of their Grow the Game initiative.

Bauer's Grow the Game initiative is a global campaign to add one million new players to the game in about 10 years.

Bauer's First Shift program is a low cost six-week program for children aged six to 10 who want to try out the sport of hockey.

The cost for six weeks is $199 and includes enrollment, ice time, and a full set of equipment that the kids get to keep.

Participants of the program meet at the same time, on the same day, at the same rink for the six consecutive weeks.

Bauer Canada's senior manager of corporate communications, Tory Mazzola, says the program is 100 per cent focused on fun and learning the game of hockey.

"Of course, we're a hockey equipment manufacturer and we want more kids to play the game," says Mazzola, "but at the end of the day this is an investment in the sport that we love."

The program partners with 40 minor hockey associations across the nation, with Hockey Calgary being one.

Kevin Kobelka, executive director of Hockey Calgary says they had 150 kids participate in the program this year.

"As these sessions are ending I've been talking to parents, giving them options if they want to become a part of our mainstream hockey (program)," says Kobelka.

Snaith says that Bauer's First Shift program is beneficial for not only people playing the sport, but to grow the fan base of hockey in general.

"I think having Bauer Canada and getting people into hockey and liking the game is only going to be good for it," says Snaith. "You're always going to need fans and if people never played hockey it would be harder to turn them into a fan."

Mazzola is confident this program will grow the game of hockey across the nation.

"It's convenient for families, it's fun for kids and we think it's a great way to start to shift the options for kids who want to get into the game of hockey," says Mazzola.

Mazzola says Bauer is in the process of creating a transitional program for kids who have completed the First Shift program.

This transitional program is to ensure players can be on the ice for a full season.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thumbnail courtesy of Alex Clark / Flickr

To contact the editors responsible for this story; Evan Manconi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Bre Brezinski at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..