Victoria Royals to travel in style with customized bus
By Cleve Dheensaw, Times Colonist July 8, 2012
Whoever thought a team hockey bus might be a candidate for the MTV reality show Pimp My Ride?
But the Victoria Royals newly-delivered bus — which sleeps 30 and comes complete with fridge/ freezer, two flatscreen TVs, MP3 plug-ins and Blu-ray disc player — might just qualify.
The cost of the bus is estimated at $650,000, but the team would not confirm price.
“It cost more than $500,000,” is all Royals president Dave Dakers would allow.
Anyway you cut it, it's a long way from those dent-marked, beat-up Bull Durham- and Slap Shot-era sports team buses of yore.
Dakers first got the idea during pro ECHL Victoria Salmon Kings days when he saw similar buses used by the Las Vegas Wranglers and Phoenix Roadrunners.
The bus will begin transporting the Western Hockey League's Royals beginning this coming season.
A used bus was gutted and interior of the shell retrofitted. Just getting it to Victoria from its retro-fit assembly site in Hueytown, Alabama, was a six-day cross-continental adventure. Wilson’s Transportation, which will provide the drivers and maintenance for the bus, flew maintenance-manager Jim Morrison down to Alabama. Morrison drove the bus back to Victoria.
But despite the 30 bunk beds, Morrison was able to sleep only one night in the bus because of the extreme high temperatures being experienced across the United States. It was so hot at night that the bus air conditioning couldn't keep up.
Because all the bus is taken up with living space — including restaurant-style leather banquette seating — it comes with a 20-foot trailer hooked behind that will carry the hockey equipment. The whole unit, bus and trailer, is 65 feet long.
“It’s a B.C. Ferries dream,” quipped John Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Transport.
But it will allow the Royals to arrive from away games at anytime overnight at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal and simply park the bus and await the 7 a.m. sailing while the players sleep in relative comfort.
Getting the high school-aged players to class first thing in the morning was a main consideration, said Dakers, not hotel room savings.
“With some of our transportation issues, this makes a lot of sense,” he said.
“This give us flexibility in travel and to arrive for road games as rested as possible. Coming home, the players will miss less days of school.”
It is believed to be the best bus in the WHL.
ROYALS UNVEIL TEAM BUS
Victoria will travel in comfort next season with arrival of fully-modified coach.
Victoria, BC – The Victoria Royals are proud to announce the arrival of the team's bus and trailer in preparation for the 2012-13 Western Hockey League season.
Purchased by RG Properties Ltd. (parent company to the Royals), the Prevost coach recently completed a six-day, 4434 kilometer journey to Victoria from Hueytown, Alabama, where it was being customized for the team by Vulcan Coach Corporation. Wrapped in Royals team colours and logos and measuring 45 feet long, the bus also tows a 20 foot trailer to be used for team equipment. The coach sleeps 30 passengers and will decrease total travel time for the team next season.
“With the travelling challenge of being on the island,” Royals’ owner Graham Lee said, “we felt the purchase of this bus was an investment in the health of our players as they will be able to maximize their rest, and it will also shorten the time spent on the road. We believe these factors will also play a role in promoting the success of the players in the classroom and on the ice. This is another step towards our goal of being a flagship franchise in the Western Hockey League.”
The bus seats up to 36 passengers in leather couches and comes complete with flat-screen televisions throughout, fridge and freezer, microwave, mobile internet, dual-zone climate control and a dedicated rear lounge. Wilson's Transportation of Victoria will provide maintenance and drivers for the coach, which will embark on its first road trip August 30th when the Royals cruise to Kamloops to face the Blazers in a pre-season contest.
“It was an extensive process to get the bus to Victoria,” Royals Team President Dave Dakers said. “I presented the idea to Graham last summer and he supported it so we placed the order around the same time. There are very few suppliers in North America that can supply a bus like this, which will be very unique in the WHL. Both Graham and his wife, Angela, helped choose the exterior and interior of the bus, as well as the many amenities on board. From the purchase of the new video scoreboard at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre and now to the purchase of this bus, Graham and RG Properties continue to support these ideas to help the player and fan experience.
“There have certainly been some hurdles bringing the bus over the border, but we now have it here and we are very happy to finally have it in Victoria. With the countless hours a WHL team spends on a bus, we believe it is imperative to do everything within our means to make this time as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. This bus will provide the players the necessary amenities to accomplish this.”