With reports this week that the Calgary Flames are, once again, shopping around for a new location for their farm team, the Abbotsford Heat, the team’s inability to draw sufficient crowds to balance the books is again in questions.
Despite stellar performances on the ice, in the five year’s since George Peary’s Deal to financially backstop the Flames and the local owners group through a legal term referred to as a ‘supply agreement,’ which ensures that Abbotsford taxpayers lose money on the Heat rather than the owners, the team has never managed to break even or provide the profits that were widely predicted by Councillor John Smith and former councillor Bruce Beck when they sold a small minority of the community on the Plan A projects which were supposed to lead to economic development and fill City coffers.
Despite criticism that no proper business plan had been completed and warnings that it would take years to pay for Beck and Smith’s dreams, Council approved the expenditure of what is looking more and more the like $500,000,000 predicted by the Abbotsford Ratepayers Association (ARA) and other critics of the projects.
Under Peary’s deal, the taxpayers of Abbotsford have sent almost $6 million to Calgary so far. Based on the attendance figures so far this year it looks like they will be sending a similar amount of money out of town.
The contract/supply agreement/deal states that it can be reviewed after five years, a window of opportunity which occurs this summer.
American Hockey League 2013-14 Attendance Graph
A graph of the Heat’s attendance across all seasons is below the league stats.