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Announcement to be made on future of AESC, Abbotsford Heat

An announcement will be made tomorrow regarding the future of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, home of the Abbotsford Heat hockey team.  - File photo
An announcement will be made tomorrow regarding the future of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, home of the Abbotsford Heat hockey team.
— image credit: File photo

An announcement will be made tomorrow morning pertaining to the future of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC).

A media conference is slated for 10 a.m. at the AESC to "introduce a comprehensive new strategic direction for the community facility," according to a media advisory issued by the City of Abbotsford.

Speakers on hand for the press conference will be: Mayor Bruce Banman; Ken King, chief executive officer of the Calgary Flames (the NHL parent club of the Abbotsford Heat); Dean Clark, regional vice president of Global Spectrum (the company that operates the AESC); and Ryan Walter, president of the Abbotsford Heat hockey team.

Rumours have been circulating about the future of the Abbotsford Heat, which has struggled with its attendance since coming to the city for the 2009-10 season. A recent report out of Glens Falls, N.Y. suggested the Heat could be ticketed for that city.

The Heat currently rank 29th out of 30 American Hockey League teams in attendance this season with an average crowd of 3,007. That's down from 3,778 last season.

The attendance issues have compelled the City of Abbotsford to cover annual deficits as part of the hockey team's 10-year supply fee agreement to play out of the AESC, which guarantees the team a $5.7 million break-even budget.

The shortfall for 2012-13 was $1.66 million, bringing the total bill to $5.24 million over the first four seasons. The final numbers for 2014-15 will be announced later this year.

Global TV reported on Monday evening that the City of Abbotsford had terminated its contract with the Heat, but did not specify whether that means there will be a new contract or the team will be moving.

The Heat played their final home game of the regular season on Sunday, but they will be participating in the Calder Cup playoffs beginning next week.

The Calgary Flames, through a spokesperson, declined comment, and Banman could not be reached for comment.

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