By Shaheen Shivji. This morning the City of Abbotsford announced the conclusion of its tenancy agreement with the Calgary Flames farm team—The Abbotsford Heat. The city of Abbotsford will pay $5.5 million to terminate the agreement before its ten-year end date.
In its first five years, The Heat cost Abbotsford taxpayers $7.2 million.
It was labelled as a “disappointing day” by Ryan Walter, President, Abbotsford Heat, who somberly thanked the team and fans. However, for Abbotsford resident Henry Kliewer it was not. “I am a taxpayer in Abbotsford and I hope The Heat leave this city. Simply put, their contract is no good…I would like to see the Vancouver Canucks farm team as a replacement or any other team but just not this one.” While all Canucks fans would be elated to see the baby Canucks call Abbotsford Place home, sources tell Abbotsford Today “that is not likely to occur anytime in the near future.”
According to Mayor Bruce Banman, “This is the best scenario for our city and ratepayers.” Banman also announced the renaming of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Complex to Abbotsford Place with the hope that added recreation services provided by the city can be hosted there be it ice-skating championships, lacrosse or other activities. The facility is there in the centre of Abbotsford and City officials want the public to use it 365 days a year.
Additionally, the City of Abbotsford also restructured its existing ten-year deal with Global Spectrum. The new arrangement will see City of Abbotsford pay them a reduced management fee but Dean Clarke, Vice President, Global Spectrum declined to provide actual figures illustrating the cost savings.
“Any reduction is still not a good deal for taxpayers. This building was built on a business plan supplied by Global Spectrum and it failed from day one and any continuing contract with them is going to result in a liability for Abbotsford taxpayers,” Vince Dimanno, and 2011 civic election candidate, who staunchly opposed this deal, said.
Clarke said that Global Spectrum is focused on streamlining operations, continuing to bring world-class entertainment to Abbotsford and hopes to be servicing the community for another ten years. “On the one hand, we see the end of a relationship that has cost Abbotsford taxpayers millions of dollars. However, the building now sits without an anchor tenant, Dimanno, added.
George Murray, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Abbotsford, who sources say hail as the visionary architect behind this new deal, said, “We are exploring all our options to find a new anchor tenant,” but Abbotsford Today learned that WHL Hockey team may call Abbotsford Place home next season.
Dimanno, did say he would support another sports team as an anchor tenant as long as the contract is not the same as the one between the City of Abbotsford and the Calgary Flames.
“We can’t undo the losses in the past but we can mitigate the losses in the future and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Any team coming forward has to be revenue positive. We will not be subsidizing private industry again, “Banman said.
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