The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate the first-period goal of Logan Ritchie (far left) on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate the first-period goal of Logan Ritchie (far left) on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Voices of the Peninsula: Brown Bears are back and need your support

Our club will resume hockey operations at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex beginning April 16.

Dear Fans & Supporters,

The Kenai River Brown Bears, proud members of the North American Hockey League, are pleased to announce that our club will resume hockey operations at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex beginning April 16, playing our final regular season games at our home venue!

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a stoppage of the 2019-20 season in March of last year. While some teams chose to temporarily discontinue their hockey operations this season, the Bears joined 23 other NAHL teams in deciding to play.

However, the cost of playing in Alaska was too great, with travel restrictions, testing requirements, arena capacity limits, and mitigation policies all making it cost prohibitive. After 14 seasons and a community effort to “Save the Bears” in 2017, we were committed to moving forward.

Our staff, led by General Manager Chris Hedlund, leveraged opportunities to base our team out of Minnesota, easily accessible to opponents in our Midwest division.

Health and safety of our players, staff, and fans is paramount to our mission, and this allowed us to still remain active in the league, while affording our players and fans the opportunity to safely participate in what has become one of the most respected junior leagues in North America.

We have not solicited ANY of our Alaska business sponsors during this time, as we did not know when, or if, the team would be able to return to our home ice. However, we did leave all advertising in place at SRSC and have continued to promote our sponsors whenever possible through various mediums.

As always, our goal is to give as much to the community and our business “partners” as we possibly can. Understanding the tremendous challenges our local businesses are under, we instead have done everything possible to control costs and operate as efficiently as possible. While we have been successful in this effort, it has nonetheless been a costly endeavor.

With the recent decision by the City of Soldotna to raise spectator capacity at Bears’ games, we feel it is time to bring the Kenai Peninsula’s team home! However, WE NEED YOUR HELP! While we would like to pack the house, we are currently confined to a capacity of 750 spectators (less than 25%). The city has mandated several contingencies, including wearing of masks at all times, except when consuming food or beverages, as well as social distancing, unless with members of your immediate household.

Season tickets (for our remaining eight regular-season home games) will be on sale beginning Thursday, March 25 through Sunday April 11 for $120 and can be purchased with digital download at www.kenairiverbrownbears.com. Each ticket will be game-specific (you cannot use all eight tickets for the same game). Again, ONLY 750 tickets will be sold. Any “season ticket packages” not sold may be purchased online as individual tickets for $20 each beginning Monday of each game week.

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer the many discounted tickets as we have in past seasons (children, seniors, college, military, group, etc.). We apologize in advance and will reconsider all options in the future.

Finally, purchase of season tickets or individual tickets will NOT include playoff games. Those who purchase the eight-game season ticket package will, however, have first opportunity to purchase playoff tickets.

We will be reaching out to our current partners in the coming days, with an opportunity to sponsor a game night, solely, or in conjunction with others. A limited number of tickets will be included in game-night sponsorships. Interested parties may inquire at ADVERTISE@KRBBEARS.COM.

Thank you to all who have supported us through thick and thin. Operating an Alaskan team in a nationwide league, where we required to pay the lion’s share of travel expenses for incoming teams, is a daunting task. We have the best fans and sponsors in junior hockey!

Go Bears!

Nate Kiel, president Kenai River Brown Bears

#BrownBearNation

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