The Peninsula Oilers will return to play baseball in 2020, but they are still searching for the money fund the season.
The Oilers announced in August that they would return for their 47th season — all consecutive and all played in the Alaska Baseball League — next summer, but the club is still searching for the funds to support the season.
The organization hosted an open meeting Sept. 14 at the Oilers Bingo Hall in old town Kenai, and Oilers president Mike Tice said about eight people showed up in addition to the dozen or so usual board members, making for a 20-person think tank.
“I just flat out told everybody we’re broke,” Tice said. “We’re still broke. But we made the decision to go for it and have another season.”
Tice said the meeting was an invitation for the general public to bring forth their ideas of how to keep the club afloat, after major sponsorship money from oil companies and gaming funds have mostly dried up in recent years.
Tice said the meeting was mostly used as a preliminary launching point to dive deeper into the 2020 budget issue. While nothing significant was realized, he said the support he saw from the community gave him and the club a positive boost to renew their efforts for sponsorship.
“We need to have a bigger push for some sponsorship, and we know that the people supporting us are the small businesses around the peninsula,” Tice said. “The oil money is gone, the sponsor money is not there … we need to come up with $100,000. So we need to either hit up 100 people for $1,000 or start shooting for more sponsors.
“We’re going to redouble our efforts in getting sponsors.”
The Oilers have also had informal partnerships with organizations such as the local little league teams, and Tice said the relationships that the club has formed with them could potentially be extended to help the Oilers financially, although no plans for that are currently being put into use.
“We can use their troops as boots on the ground to fundraise,” Tice said.
Tice said the announcement that the Oilers would return for another season was released in order to give all parties the chance to prepare properly. With head coach Kyle Brown already making plans to return and billet families being set up to house players for two months, the call was made to keep the operation afloat.
“Recruiting happens pretty early,” he said. “Kyle has probably half of our team recruited, so you’ve got to make your decision quick this season.”
The Oilers board meets the second Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Bingo Hall, and Tice invited the public to show up if they have ideas they wish to present.