Players and fans were hugely disappointed when the Gold Coast Blue Tongues announced they will be out of the AIHL for at least another season. Ian Douglas looks at the details
“…unfortunately a Gold Coast team is out of yet another “National League” season in 2014. All because Australia’s sixth largest city does not have a suitable Ice Sports venue capable of hosting our local team in the national competition,” bemoaned a team press release.
The issue stems from a classic dilemma of playing puck in the semi-tropics. In each of the last two seasons played, in 2011 and 2012, games were lost when officials deemed the ice surface at Iceland Bundall unplayable. Forced to move on less than a weeks’ notice to Brisbane Icehouse last year, and asked to play as late as 10:30pm due to scheduling difficulties, there was no doubt that the team was encountering difficulties.
Obliged to pull out of this season past in the attempt to find a new rink, one was not forthcoming in time to salvage the 2014 season.
The team had inspired high praise from management for its professionalism through this upheaval.
“Amidst all of the challenges and hurdles that were put in front of us, we banded together as a tight-knit team and organisation; and proved that even with the setbacks we experienced, we still produced a season to be very proud of” said GM Dave Emblem of the 2012 season on the Blue Tongues website.
A Montrealer, Emblem is currently attempting to raise funds necessary to bring a double-pad ice rink to Gold Coast.
The price tag? A solid $15 million. Emblem has been spotted attending trade shows in Asia in attempts to find investors.
“The project is all about tourism and community infrastructure,” Mr Emblem told goldcoast.com.au when the project was first mooted back in December 2012.
“Those in tourism and government keep saying we need more tourism infrastructure to keep the tourists occupied and coming back. The Ice Sports Stadium is certainly one project that can satisfy that need.”
The Blue Tongues have one trip to the post-season on their resume in 2009, when they lost 5-3 to the North Stars in the semifinals.
By Ian Douglas