City of Abbotsford ends contract with the Heat
After much speculation, the City of Abbotsford announced today they are ending their contract with the Abbotsford Heat AHL hockey team at the end of the 2013-2014 season.
The Calgary Flame farm team has long struggled to fill seats and win fans and today’s announcement comes after five years of financial losses. Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said at the press conference that “this is the best scenario financially for our city and our rate payers.”
Banman said ending their tenancy agreement with the Heat is the preliminary step in moving toward a “new three-prong strategy direction designed to usher in a new game for the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.” The strategy has three components: establishing naming-rights partners and anchor tenants; re-negotiating managing agreements with Global Spectrum and improved community access for amateur hockey, skating and other sports.
In addition to the city’s new strategy and “new game”, they have re-branded the facility and will now be known as the Abbotsford Centre.
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. The city’s recorded losses over four years are: $450,637 (2009-2010); $1.37 million (2010-2011); $1.76 million (2011-2012) and $1.66 (2012-2013).
Figures for this season have not yet been released.
~ with files from Amy Judd and Aaron McArthur