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

Body found after SUV found fully engulfed in flames in Abbotsford field

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has been called in

PHOTOS: West Coast Christmas Show and Artisan Market at Tradex

Over the past 11 years the show has been attended by over 175,000 visitors

Annual Realtors Care Blanket Drive supports 5 Abbotsford organizations

25th anniversary event runs from Nov. 18 to 25

British comedy duo James and Jamesy present O Christmas Tea

Production comes to Abbotsford Arts Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 20

WoMen Rise holds two events, including tree planting

Community welcome to events on Sunday, Nov. 17 in Abbotsford

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

Paul Bissonnette joins Vancouver Warriors after tweeting he could walk on to an NLL club

Bissonnette will join the Warriors for their final week of training camp at Rogers Arena

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

B.C. First Nations drop out of court challenge, sign deals with Trans Mountain

Upper Nicola Band says deal represents a ‘significant step forward’

Most Read