In March, Australian Hotelier reported that beloved Collingwood live music institution, The Tote Hotel was up for sale.

A public campaign, ‘The Last Chance to Save the Tote’, was soon set up by owners of another local music venue, the Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar, with the aim of securing enough funds to purchase the pub and run it, before transferring ownership to a charitable trust ‘that will legally protect the Tote from being anything other than a Live Music Venue for the rest of time’.

The crowdfunding campaign, hosted on ‘creative crowdfunding’ website Pozible, succeeded in its aim of raising $3m.

Shane Hilton and Leanne Chance, owners of the Last Chance and both business and romantic partners, said it had long been an ambition of theirs to run the Tote.

“We have wanted to operate the Tote for 20 years,” The Last Chance’s crowd funding statement read.

“We even have a name for it ‘the White Whale’ (got to love a Moby Dick reference).

“We’re not going to give any of those plans away (not just yet anyway) but the one thing we will be bringing is bringing the community back to the Tote.”

Current owners, Sam Crupi and Jon Perring responded on Instagram, expressing their admiration of the campaign.

“The Tote would like to thank everyone that pledged to the Last Chance Pozible campaign to try and buy the Tote. It’s a stunning result for the community to reach the $3m target. The Last Chance peeps (Shane and Leanne) ran an amazing campaign and deserve all accolades. Looks like the scruffy old The Tote makes history again,” the caption read.

Nevertheless, the statement continued, suggesting that the funds raised may not be enough to secure the purchase of the site.

“The current asking price is $6.65m and is based on the land value. This is backed by a recent independent valuation by a respected and qualified valuer,” the owners said.

Explaining the cost, Crupi and Perring pointed to mortgages taken out during the lockdown era, that the duo said enabled the venue to survive.

“The asking price allows for the mortgage, all liabilities and the current owners to be paid out fairly. As a way of background, the Tote has refinanced several times to get it through the pandemic, the cost of which is factored into this price,” the statement continued.

“It wouldn’t be here today if these steps hadn’t been taken to get the Tote through this crisis. Hence, the reserve price was set to be fair but also realistic.”

The current owners of the venue also suggested that the government and private investors (a step the Last Chance campaign is opposed to) should step in to bridge the valuation gap.

“As there is a shortfall between the community pledges, the Last Chance equity and the sale price, Governments and possibly private philanthropy would need to come on board.”

This being said, Crupi and Perring reiterated their desire to see the sale completed with the support of the community, with the social media post reading: “A properly structured foundation would need to be set up for this to work and a stakeholder discussion needs to occur for this to happen successfully.”

“The Tote is open to such a discussion and is also keen to make this sale occur. Discussions will continue in good faith with Last Chance, so stay tuned,” the statement concluded.

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