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

2019 Christmas light displays in Mission and Abbotsford

Local homes are aglow for the holidays

Mission Candlelight Parade lights up downtown

Annual event takes place tonight, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. along First Avenue

Three arrested from Abbotsford police investigation into string of commercial break-ins

Warrants carried out at Abbotsford and Aldergrove homes by emergency response units

Drone racing event landing in Abbotsford on Saturday

Ag-Rec Building hosting races all day long, free for public to check out

Westbound Highway 1 crash between Abbotsford and Chilliwack has person trapped in vehicle

Helicopter lift requested over emergency scanners, congestion is building fast

Fashion Fridays: Ethical and sustainable gifts for the season

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Province wants to seize Langley property connected to drug lab

The Office of Civil Forfeiture is targeting a property on Fraser Highway

B.C. Transit scores 28 used fareboxes on eBay, saves $300,000

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Mission speed skater breaks three records

Samuel Green was one of the youngest skaters at the Canadian Short Track Junior Championships

Speed Week coming to Mission Leisure Centre

Fastest Skater in B.C. competition lands in Mission on Dec. 12

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Most Read