Sparta Prague hockey club has new owner

Hockey team is looking to move forward and hopes for more fan support

The new owner of the Sparta Prague hockey club Petr Bříza would like bring more shareholders into the club to run it in the future. Bříza, a 51-year-old former national team goalkeeper, bought Sparta in mid-August from Sportovní holding Praha and wants to build it into a more successful club.

“I am very confident that the functional model is to have more shareholders, and my goal is in the next months and years is to discuss the entry of other people … who will make the club stronger," Bříza said at a news conference in Prague.

Bříza is also vice president of the executive committee of the Czech Ice Hockey Association (ČSLH), a board member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and a Prague City Hall counselor for the TOP 09 party. Recently he decided to become the owner of Sparta as well. He previously said he had secured private financing to buy Sparta.

Supermarket chain Billa is the new general partner of Sparta. “It is not easy to successfully follow through on negotiations with such a company. Very soon we were in accord on the topic of youth. For Billa it was a plus that Sparta invests in and pays a lot of attention to youth. I'm glad we made an agreement,” Bříza said.

“We have a high percent of partners who have remained with us in good times and bad. But we are proud that we are now able to present such a great player,” Bříza said. He also said he appreciates the cooperation with O2 Arena, where the team moved last year from Tipsport Arena in Holešovice.

The new location was visited by an average of 7,612 fans per game, an increase of 1,496 viewers over the previous season. In the playoffs there was even average 12,664 fans per match. Bříza said that the move to O2 Arena was a good step, despite the desire for nostalgia on the part of some fans. “I'm glad we settled into O2 arena,” Bříza said.

He also wants the city to identify more closely with the team. He gave HC Kometa Brno as an example, where season ticket sales put a large amount of money into the South Moravian team's coffers each year, and the money can be invested into players. “The stronger the support of the fans, the stronger the club,” Bříza said.

“If we are to be successful with Czech hockey and compete with Mannheim, where they have an average of over 10,000 people at the game, we need the audience. Without it, the top hockey and sports cannot develop because [fan support] is the root and foundation,” he added.

As for Tipsport Arena, Bříza said it might in the future be a training center, but it would either need to be torn down and rebuilt or completely renovated inside leaving only the original facade.

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