Posted: Mar 12, 2009, 6:25 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Abbotsford, BC
Abbotsford Flames: One Step Closer?
Calgary Flames seek to move AHL team to Abbotsford
League’s board of governors will need convincing because of long-distance travel to the West Coast
By Vicki Hall, Canwest News Service March 12, 2009 11:02 AM
‘We intend to file for relocation to Abbotsford,’ Calgary Flames president Ken King said of moving the NHL’s team’s American Hockey League affiliate to the Fraser Valley. ‘We’ve got a lot of critical, key prospects in our system, and we need a great home for them to prepare for the NHL. We’ve had substantial discussions with Abbotsford.’
DETROIT — The Abbotsford Flames? That’s what the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames are planning for the next home of their American Hockey League affiliate, the team’s president said today.
The Flames’ American Hockey League farm team in Quad Cities, Ill., is set to flicker into oblivion at the end of the season. After months of speculation, the Flames released the Quad City ownership group Thursday from the remaining three years of their minor-league affiliate agreement with the NHL club.
Flames president Ken King confirmed his intention today of signing a 10-year affiliation agreement with a group of investors in Abbotsford.
“We intend to file for relocation to Abbotsford,” King said. “We’ve got a lot of critical, key prospects in our system, and we need a great home for them to prepare for the NHL.
“We’ve had substantial discussions with Abbotsford. We’re in a situation where we’re completely comfortable with the terms of an arrangement.”
The move to Abbotsford requires approval of the AHL board of governors, and there could be resistance from teams opposed to the travel.
Abbotsford is a community of 130,000 about 75 kilometres east of Vancouver on the Trans-Canada Highway. The nearest AHL city is Winnipeg, a 24-hour bus ride away in good weather.
“I don’t know if I would term it resistance, but I think they’re going to need to be convinced because of the geography,” King said. “They’re going to need to be convinced things like travel subsidies are nailed down.”
The potential Abbotsford ownership group has agreed to pay travel subsidies to help alleviate the cost of cross-country flights for the opposition.
The Abbotsford group envisions itself as the first AHL team to set up shop on the West Coast to serve teams in the Pacific time zone.
“It’s a bold move,” King said. “And I think it’s a smart move. It’s a Canadian market. They know hockey. They understand hockey. They appreciate hockey. And they’ve been years in the making.
“They’ve been courting us and other teams for a long time.”
With no potential tenant nailed down, Abbotsford built a spiffy $65-million, 7,018-seat building set for completion at the end of March.
In Quad Cities, with an average attendance of 2,810, the Flames rank 28th in the 29-team AHL. The local ownership estimates losses this season at $1.3 million US.
“We like Quad Cities, and we thought we were building something,” King said. “But we also appreciate, in the face of a worsening economy and two very difficult years, and respect the effort they put in. They’re wonderful people. They tried very hard, and I think it’s going to be necessary for us to look at other options.”
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Source: The Vancouver Sun -- http://www.vancouversun.com/Sports/C...011/story.html