April 15, 2014 12:40 am

City of Abbotsford terminating contract with Abbotsford Heat hockey team

VANCOUVER – Global News has learned major changes are on the way for the Abbotsford Heat hockey team and its contentious relationship with taxpayers.

Sources tell us the City of Abbotsford has terminated its contract with the Abbotsford Heat, but whether that means there will be a new contract or the team will be moving remains to be seen.

The city has called a press conference for Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.

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There are rumours the Calgary Flames farm team will be moving to Glens Falls, New York Civic Centre, but that has yet to be confirmed.

The Abbotsford Heat came to the city for the  2009-10 season, after signing a 10-year contract guaranteeing the team $5.7 million every year.

In the first four years of the 10-year deal, the Heat cost Abbotsford taxpayers $5.24 million. Figures for this season have not yet been released.

How much this new deal will cost the City of Abbotsford remains to be seen, but it will be less than the total of the remaining five years.

- With files from Aaron McArthur.

Reporter Ted Field has followed the team’s experience in Abbotsford since the beginning and provided this look at what has happened:

“Why is Calgary’s farm team in Abbotsford?”

That was the question asked in 2009 and it still doesn’t have a rational answer five years later.

Abbotsford was eager to show it was a “city in the country.”

Taxpayers approved building a $60 million arena complete with luxury boxes and club seats.

Build it and they will come.

A team came but the crowds didn’t.

This year’s average attendance was 3,007, second worst in the American Hockey League.

The sight of Flames colours on the, “Home” team failed to connect in a Canucks mad market.

The team is also thousands of kilometers from the rest of the league’s heart in the eastern U.S.

That means millions of dollars in Abbotsford taxpayer help.

The team could soon be gone but not before one last act.

Unlike the Canucks, the Heat made the playoffs.

Tickets are still available.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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