The Rayside Balfour Canadians have announced they are rebranding as the Greater Sudbury Cubs, circling back to a name the club previously held nearly 30 years ago.
The team also has a new home-game arena — the Gerry McCrory Countryside arena in the city’s South End.
The last time this Jr. A hockey franchise was called the Sudbury Cubs was back in 1993.
Although Rayside Balfour has been dropped from the team’s name, officials with the club made it clear to fans from the northern end of the city — where the team was previously based — that the Greater Sudbury Cubs are still their team.
“We also want to continue to welcome our loyal fan-base from Rayside Balfour to our games,” managing director Blaine Smith said in a press release.
“This team is still their team, the same way as it belongs to the hockey fans from Hanmer, Valley East, Capreol, Garson, Coniston, Walden, Copper Cliff, Levack and all areas of our region.
“Our goal is to create a ‘family experience’ with an exciting team, low-cost admission and a very safe and comfortable environment for everyone to enjoy.”
The Cubs are making a comeback after 19 months of hibernation. Their season was cut short last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they decided to spend that time planning a rebranding of the team and what it has to offer Greater Sudbury.
As a start, they announced a new home arena, which can offer more seating for more people to come watch the games.
“So Countryside Arena did become available. So we looked into that,” said Smith in an interview with Sudbury.com. At 900 seats total, they are able to host games at 50 per cent capacity, which will be 450 fully-vaccinated fans. In addition to the expanded seating, fans will also be able to enjoy chair-back seating and an abundance of free parking at the new arena.
Alongside changing the home arena, they are also launching a new Cubs Care Community Program.
“We are just doing our part to give back to our community that supports us,” Smith said.
The community program includes a front-line worker ticket service where the Cubs will provide up to 50 complimentary tickets to every home game for any front-line worker. This includes hospital staff, PSWs, education staff, grocery staff, etc.
The team will also partake in a charity support program to assist non-profit and local charitable organizations like the Elgin Street Mission.
As the final element of their community initiative, they are partnering with a number of local minor hockey leagues to coach young athletes by attending on-ice team practices.
“We’re not just here to build hockey players but we’re also here to build good community members. Wherever they decide to go after their hockey career,” said general manager Jeff Forsyth.
Both Smith and Forsyth are calling out to local schools of the community to help name the new team mascot - a giant cub wearing the new Sudbury Cubs jersey. The Cubs will be staging a contest with the schools in hopes of putting a name to the icon of the team.
Some home games will also be televised with the Eastlink TV network. This upcoming Sunday will be the first preseason game at the new arena and with the new brand at 6:30 p.m.. Visit the team website here to find out more.