Canucks owner says Abbotsford one ‘option’ for farm team

Club’s contract with current home of farm team expires at the end of this hockey year

A radio interview by the owner of the Vancouver Canucks has re-ignited discussion about the franchise’s farm team possibly coming to Abbotsford.

Francesco Aquilini was asked during an interview on Sportsnet 650 whether the Canucks’ farm team could move to Abbotsford – a possibility that has been discussed at length since the Calgary Flames’ farm team left town in 2014. The Canucks’ farm team currently plays in Utica, N.Y., but the contract for the arena there expires at the end of this year. The Canucks can choose to extend the contract for another three years.

“There’s a lot of pros and cons,” Aquilini said.

Utica, he said, is a “good hockey town,” and the building there is often full. He also noted that teams playing on the west coast travel much more than those in the east, where the vast majority of farm clubs are located.

“In Abbotsford, there were a lot of complaints because of the travel,” he said. “The costs were higher, and ticket prices were not very high, so there are financial reasons.”

But he continued:

“That’s something that we’re looking at all the time, different markets. The Pacific Coliseum is an option, Abbotsford is an option. Right now, we’re still in the contract … Our guys are still evaluating that … and seeing what makes the most sense.”

This May, after another round of discussion on the topic, Mayor Henry Braun spoke about the topic.

He said he agreed with the “Why not Abbotsford?” and said he has attempted to draw a pro hockey tenant for Abbotsford Centre. But he said an agreement can’t cost taxpayers money, and that the Canucks had previously asked for a revenue guarantee.

RELATED: ‘Why not Abbotsford’: Mayor working to see pro hockey return to city

Abbotsford had already been stung by having to pay million to sustain the Abbotsford Heat, and then millions more in 2014 to end their deal with the Flames.

Several years ago, the Canucks offered to bring the team to Abbotsford, but demanded a revenue guarantee of $7.7 million – around $2 million more than that guaranteed to the Heat. Talks didn’t proceed beyond an early discussion between city manager George Murray and the Canucks, according to Braun, who said this week the deal would have be a bad one for the city.

“We’ve done everything,” Braun said about the quest for a hockey tenant for the Abbotsford Centre. “I’ve tried to open that door three or four times in the last couple of years and they know we have an arena that’s looking for a major tenant.”

Mayoral candidate Eric Nyvall said on Facebook that he thought the city should should try to restart discussions with the Canucks with the hope of reaching a memorandum of understanding that “guarantees a certain revenue.” Nyvall suggested the city itself would then try to market season tickets themselves, with buyers committing to five-year terms. A final deal could be finalized afterwards, he said.

He said he wouldn’t like to see the city sign another revenue guarantee agreement with another hockey team that risks losing money.


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘Person of interest’ identified after suspicious meat left in North Delta park

Piles of meat have been dumped near the 63rd Avenue trail entrance four times in the last 30 days

Body recovered from Fraser River not suspicious: Delta police

Police were called to the 400-block of Audley Rd. on Annacis Island the morning of Friday, Aug. 16

Fundraiser launched for South Surrey stabbing victim’s funeral

Paul Prestbakmo remembered for ‘amazing smile, great soul’

Surrey-raised Merkules raps his way around the world

Cole Stevenson opens up about his ‘Scars,’ a hit remix of ‘Old Town Road’ and how he’s pals with Shaq

VIDEO: Canadian zoos’ captive breeding programs help preserve endangered species

Programs considered last-ditch effort to prevent local extinctions of turtles, butterflies and more

Son of slain former Hells Angel is one of two men sentenced for crime spree

Pair’s 2017 series of Lower Mainland robberies stretched from Surrey to Mission

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Mom mourns teen son whose fatal overdose posted on social media

Chantell Griffiths misses the son she hadn’t seen much in recent years

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Oppenheimer Park residents told to leave, clear out tents by Aug. 21

Police say park has seen influx of residents, violence in recent months

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read