Financial woes plague Calgary Vipers

Calgary's only professional baseball team could possibly be out of business with news that its website has been taken down, employees have not been paid and administrative office doors are locked.

Some players and employees have not received payment

The Calgary Vipers have shut down operations as the team tries to restructure and some employees say they have not received their final cheque – including players.

Viper outfielder Drew Miller doesn't know whether he should be looking for a new job. (CBC)

Outfielder Drew Miller said everything is frozen right now.

"Players especially are all in limbo," he said.

Miller said players don’t know whether they should be looking for a new job or if someone might come in and buy the team, or at least take care of the bills.

"A lot of us are looking for money that we are really dependent on because we don’t really make a lot," he said.

Manager also out

Manager Graham Dobson said ever since president John Conrad resigned Sept. 7 to pursue other business interests in Winnipeg, the Gidney family, owners of the Vipers, became involved and all staff were terminated immediately.

He wrote in a letter to staff that the Gidneys are sorting out all financial transactions, including payroll.

"Some of you have contacted me in regard to bounced cheques and asking when to expect your pay," wrote Dobson.

"I don't have an answer and I don't expect to have one in the future as I too am out money owed."

He said lawyers are now involved and it could take some time, perhaps a lot.

Fan disappointed

University of Calgary (U of C) kinesiology student Jeff Peach worked as a groundskeeper for the Vipers.

'They’ve done all they can to try and take care of the people that they care about.'— Viper groundskeeper James Peach

Peach said now there are a lot of questions about people getting paid, everyone from players to coaches to concession staff.

He said the last time he got paid was mid-August.

"So I only missed out on about two weeks or so of wages, but it’s still about 900 bucks that I would like for tuition at least," he said.

James Peach worked as a Vipers groundskeeper and hasn't been paid since mid-August. (CBC)

Peach said he feels the Gidney family is working hard to get the employees paid first.

"They’ve done all they can to try and take care of the people that they care about," he said.

Peach, who also plays for the U of C Dinos baseball team, said he’s disappointed to see Calgary lose a professional team because as a young player it was a great place to come and watch "how the game should be played."

But he said it was tough to watch the management deal with a lot of adversity last season, like having trouble drawing crowds and cancelling games in bad weather.

Lease in question

Dobson said the City of Calgary, as the landlord, has changed the locks and secured the premise.

City of Calgary recreation spokesperson Michele McDonald said the lease for the stadium runs until 2020 and they are "working very closely with the family to determine what the next steps are with reference to the lease."

The Vipers have played out of Foothills Stadium since 2005 as part of the northern division of the independent North American League, but are currently not on the list for approved teams next season.