Abbotsford Centre’s first season as the home of the Abbotsford Canucks is officially in the books after the team was eliminated from the AHL playoffs on Wednesday (May 4), but it doesn’t mean Canucks-related activity in the AC has ended.
Vancouver Canucks president Jim Rutherford and the team’s general manager Patrik Allvin held a year-end media availability on Tuesday (May 3) and hinted at improvements to several Canucks facilities – including the AC.
“We’re going to do some things in Abbotsford,” Rutherford said. “Unfortunately, there’s not as many things we can do there because you need to blow too many walls out and what not. But we are going to refresh their dressing room and make it a little bit better.”
Rutherford made similar comments in January, but nothing was discussed at that time with the city of Abbotsford.
However, a city spokesperson told The News that the city of Abbotsford and Abbotsford Canucks staff will be discussing potential upgrades to the Abbotsford Centre in an upcoming meeting.
As per the Canucks contract with the city, any capital maintenance or repair would be the responsibility of the city. The contract also stated that the AC must meet AHL standards, which the arena already does. The city spokesperson said upgrading it beyond those standards is something they are looking into.
“We are open to granting permission to the Canucks to fund improvements that are above and beyond that standard,” said the city’s Aletta Vanderheyden. “We look forward to hearing what enhancements the team would like to see.”
Revenue sharing between the city and the Canucks did not come into effect for 2021-22 because the attendance threshold of 5,000 was not met. If the Canucks average 5,000 tickets sold per regular season game revenue sharing is unlocked. The team averaged 4,292 in 2021-22, but the city believes if COVID-19 restrictions are not a factor that the 5,000 threshold will be reached.
“If the Abbotsford Centre can have 100 per cent capacity and is not limited by COVID-19 restrictions, we are optimistic for revenue sharing to occur next season,” Vanderheyden said.
Rutherford and Allvin had praise for the Abbotsford organization, the team and general manager Ryan Johnson in the year-end media availability. They also made it clear Abbotsford is very important to the Canucks organization.
“This could be the best franchise in the American Hockey League over time,” Rutherford said. “And when Franceso [Aquilini, Canucks owner] first came to talk to me that [the franchise in Abbotsford] was a priority in a number of things we talked about. The importance of having that franchise here in British Columbia and how good it’s already done its first year, but to make sure that not only it’s as good but make it better and better and make sure you have good players so we have a good team every year. It’s very important to our franchise.”