Submitted. The Abbotsford Heat will remain in Abbotsford for the 2013/14 AHL hockey season,
announced Mayor Bruce Banman today.
“Recently there has been public discussion regarding the potential for the Vancouver Canucks to become the prime tenants of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Center,” said Banman. “Unfortunately, the City of Abbotsford was unable to negotiate an agreement with the Canucks with terms that were satisfactory within the time constraints.”
Nonetheless Abbotsford City Council remains committed to reviewing all options related to hockey in Abbotsford.
“City Council will continue to ensure that taxpayer’s interests are put ahead of all other considerations,” said
Banman. “We’re naturally disappointed this deal couldn’t come together, but any deal we make has to see Abbotsford taxpayers better off than they are right now – and that is one issue that isn’t negotiable.”
In 2008 and 2009 the City of Abbotsford’s administration of the day undertook an exhaustive process in recruiting a local ownership group to support professional hockey as an anchor tenant for the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. The Calgary Flames together with local Abbotsford business representatives (who formed the local ownership group Fraser Valley Sports & Entertainment) responded to the City’s quest to bring AHL pro hockey to the west coast of Canada and have continued to work closely with the City since that time to support the Heat.
“We would like to acknowledge the open minded and generous approach of the Calgary Flames and Fraser Valley Sports & Entertainment in working with us during this recent negotiation process,” said Banman. “Both organizations stepped forward in good faith in 2009 and they have remained proactive partners in the success of professional hockey in our City. We look forward to continuing to work with them next season.”
The Heat’s existing contract with the City sees them playing in Abbotsford until 2019.
“Basically it’s ‘business as usual’ for us here,” said Banman. “We are committed to supporting the Heat while they are our team and will continue to work with the Flames, Heat President Ryan Walter, and Fraser Valley Sports & Entertainment to bring success to the Heat and the community – and I for one am excited to see more young talent joining the Heat next season.”
Fraser Valley Sports & Entertainment also remain positive about the success of the team.
“We are committed to Abbotsford and we are committed to making this team a success,” said local businessman Lane Sweeting, President of Fraser Valley Sports & Entertainment. “The Abbotsford Heat are the Fraser Valley’s own pro hockey team and we will continue to work closely with the community to build a legacy of great hockey right here in our own City.”
Abbotsford City Council noted that both the Flames and Fraser Valley Sports & Entertainment had been extremely cooperative through the negotiation process and thanked them for their significant investments in making this venture work.