The CBR Brave heads into the 2020 Australian Ice Hockey League season full of optimism not only on the ice, but also off it, after changes were made to the club’s ownership structure.
Daniel Amodio and business partner Donn McMichael, who are majority owners of the Canberra Cavalry Baseball Team, are now also the primary shareholders and directors of the Brave.
Amodio announced the new-look hierarchy of the ice hockey franchise after being named CEO this week. He and McMichael, who has been named chairman of the Brave’s Advisory Committee and CFO, are poised to lead a community-based ownership model which is a carbon copy of the model the pair successfully implemented in 2018 with the Cavalry.
Amodio and McMichael will be joined by fellow director and shareholder Sunny Singh, a rising star in the organisation who will also serve as the team’s general manager of business operations, and AIHL legend and former Brave captain Jordan Gavin, who will serve as the team’s general manager of hockey operations.
A lot is owed to the Canberra club’s original founders Peter Chamberlain, Jamie Wilson, Warren Apps and Mark Rummukainen. All four men played a huge role in saving the Brave ahead of the 2014 AIHL campaign with the support of a great group of players and a strong community of members, sponsors and volunteers.
The club’s new community-based ownership model will allow these community members to now have some ownership of the team along with the franchise’s majority owners.
Amodio, who moved to Australia in 2013 as part of Major League Baseball’s ownership of the Australian Baseball League, became involved with the Brave just before the start of the 2019 season. He explained that the franchise went through an adaptation phase to reach the point they are at now.
“The Cavalry staff and I got involved with the Brave just before last season as part of the transition of ownership. We wanted to get to know everyone around the business and wanted to meet the community as early as possible before it all happened,” Amodio said.
“I was just so impressed with what they have created. From a fan experience standpoint, it is an incredibly unique experience and I was amazed at how passionate their membership base is. From the first game I went to, I was very attracted to what was obviously a very special organisation.”
Using the same ownership model from the Cavs to the Brave was seen as a good opportunity to hand the club over to professionals after a lot of hard work had been put into building the Canberra club’s brand.
“Through conversations with Donn and the Brave’s founders, we learned that they were looking to transition the company into new hands,” Amodio said.
“They did such a good job building the company, which they did largely as volunteers, and it grew to a point that it became too big for them to manage. They were looking to put it into the hands of some professional sports administrators to help it grow so it was the perfect match.”
While there is an excitement for the model change going forward, there is still glowing respect for the volunteers.
“They deserve so much credit for what they have done for this organisation. They have created an exciting brand and a really exciting product,” Amodio said.
“From an on-ice standpoint, they have built a perennial winner and the scariest team in the league. And from a community standpoint, they have developed a community of people that are so passionate about ice hockey and so passionate about the Brave.”
Having such strong community bases is something Amodio thrives off and his involvement with the Cavs and Brave ultimately provides experiences you don’t see anywhere else.
“There are so many similarities with the communities involved but it really all comes down to the passion they put into it,” Amodio said.
“The best example of it is in both of our sports, which is very unusual in professional sports, the players get to and from the locker room by walking through the crowd. It’s easy to look at this as a limitation of the venues but it actually creates the most exciting and personal relationship between the players and the fans. It’s a small example and a great symbol for what our organisations are all about.”
Amodio believes ice hockey is continuing to grow in the ACT and that the sport really moulds into the Canberra way of living.
“Ice hockey is on a really exciting growth trajectory,” Amodio said. “A sport like this fits the Australian way, it is a great fit for the Canberran lifestyle and the Canberran weather. The local association is doing a nice job in attracting more people to the sport and we hope we can help in that mission”.
For more information, visit the CBR Brave.