Heat Attendance – Worst In AHL

By October 13, 2013Municipal Politics

While fans who came out to enjoy the games were well entertained and, as always, enjoyed some excellent hockey from their Abbotsford Heat players, the number of fans once again highlights the bad planning which went into the franchise.

Photo by Win Wachsmann

Bad planning on the part of City officials – not the Calgary Flames or the local owners who extracted a ten-year guarantee they wouldn’t be allowed to lose money – George Peary’s Deal – before they would risk their own money in what Plan A proponents John Smith and Bruce Beck described as a ‘Hockey Mad Town.’

Not so much if the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars thrown the way of the Abbotsford Heat owners so far is anything with which to measure their claims.

The owners need an average of roughly 3,500 real* bums in seats at home games to break even. The big home opener double-header drew an average of 2,614 per game, the lowest in the AHL.

*Real/paying bums in seats … not including comp tickets

Heat Home Opener Weekend Attendance:
Fri 3,413
Sat 1,814
Total 5,227
Avg 2,614

AHL League Attendence

None of the principals in the Plan A debate other than John Smith (the former banker who advised us to take on as much as $500,000,000 in debt and long-term commitments so we could have the biggest hockey rink in the Valley) are currently collecting a taxpayer-funded pay cheque in Abbotsford anymore.

The next municipal election will take place in November of 2014.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • kagey1 says:

    Bad decisions were made, we get it! This is a problem, we know!! We’re the choir, we’ve heard all your sermons. But endless complaining about a fait accompli doesn’t fix anything. Pointing out the shortcomings of others isn’t a gift. It might make more people get angry and stay away, which only makes a real and existing problem worse. So instead of just repeatedly recounting what’s wrong in Abbotsford, what’s wrong with city council, what’s wrong with the ABDA, what’s wrong with the print media, here’s a thought. Offer some realistic suggestions to make things better. And don’t just tell the others how they have to change. For instance, suggest what could be done to reduce the bailouts Abbotsford taxpayers provide the Heat. Like maybe report what a great brand of hockey it is, how it’s entertaining, how it’s a chance to see tomorrow’s NHL stars, and all for a reasonably priced night out in a fantastic facility. Try being part of the solution instead of just pointing fingers. I’m getting really tired of the persistent negativity produced by Abbotsford Today. I was a fan, but you’re losing me. Okay, end of my rant. How do you feel about that? Probably the way many of us feel after your endless tirades…

    • Deceit in Drugs says:


      Unfortunately, there are people in this city, who just do not
      know the extent of the costs related to arena/hockey in this city and
      costs to be incurred in future, esp. when maintenance of the arena
      will, also, be needed requiring even more funds from the taxpayer.

      Do you know how much has been put out in subsidies in 31/2 yrs?

      $15.4 million

      Do you know Abbotsford has one of the highest proportion of
      low income wage earners in B.C., leaving a small group of
      citizens to carry the burden of the costs for high lifestyle of a

      Abbotsford Today has given citizens the avenue to give suggestions
      on how to bail out the taxpayer.

      First, we have a council catering to a select group of business people
      in this city and a very apathetic public that makes no effort to get

      It is unfortunate, but, people need to be reminded of the escalating
      costs and the needs to put pressure on Mayor & Council to fix
      the problem.

      You are tired of the negativity produced by Abbotsford Today.
      Well, they do not spin it like the Abbotsford News in favor of City Hall, painting a rosy picture for years and it has not materialized.

      I am tierd of the many positives being touted about the arena/hockey, but, we keep sinking into a bigger hole.

      The “truth” hurts, but, you can not fix a problem with the same thinking,
      you used to create it.

      That is the problem in Abbotsford…same thinking and it’s going nowhere!

      Just pointing fingers…it’s about responsibility and accountability
      and it’s sorely lacking, when it comes to those,who moved arena/hockey forward in Abbotsford…serious lack of business management andskills.

      Citizens must remind the “power structure” in Abbotsford over and over
      again otherwise, they’ll continue to do what they want!

      What suggestions do you have?

    • Deceit in Drugs says:

      The way many of us feel after your endless tirades…The Truth does

      What about the endless false comments made by the City of Abbotsford
      and The Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and the ADBA about
      the profits..and more profits and benefits to the community.

      Plan A was 115 mil and $30 mil came out of the cities capital fund leaving the roads fund short $30 million, but, then, why should taxpayers be upset about that..as Bruce Beck said, It’s O.K. to dream big!

      I quess it is when it comes out of the pockets of everyday working people, who are just trying to support their families.

      Why isn’t there more attendance?

      Firstly, many citizens have a hard time fuzzing up to fact that
      Abbotsford Heat is the Calgary Flames farm team..it’s all
      about perception, when it comes to some citizens.

      There are many middle income families in Abbotsford and they
      just do not have the money to go to every game and it was
      Lane Sweetings marketing survey, which estimated about
      7000 interested fans…but quess what, he didn’t take into account
      that a hockey fan base of at least 20,000 would be needed
      to fill attendance seats, other than specialty games against the Baby Canucks

      Fans are using their money with great discretion and they are paying
      lets say for the game that gives them a “bang for their buck.”

      Abbotsford is not drawing the fans from other cities’ which is need to financial support this area and team.

      I do support the games and encourage others to attended, but,
      you “cannot lead a horse to water if he doesn’t want to drink.”

      The negative comments reflect the reality of the situation and spinning
      it doesn’t work…look what happen when Arena/hockey was first
      touted..it clearly is not making the change needed to get people into the seats.

      Endless tirades are a result of disgruntled taxpayers left paying
      the subsidies for a project, which only narrowly passed and was pushed by select ppl in this city.

      If you do not want to hear the truth, don’t read it!

      You can ignore the truth but, the truth will always

      It is unfortunate the young players, who have so much to offer into
      the sports & our community are the real losers in the arena/hockey fiasco just like the ordinary taxpayers in this city.

    • meghanncoughlan says:

      Wow. Talk about shooting the messenger.

      Abbotsford Today isn’t producing negativity. It is highlighting ridiculous occurances in Abbotsford. Rather than pointing fingers at the messenger, Kagey1, maybe offer up some solutions to the city about how they could make better decisions in the future.

  • The Editor says:

    Sorry to upset you. Facts are facts. Media are supposed to report them. That’s what we do. If you’ll notice we’ve published six stories about the Heat so far this season. Only one of those – this one – was a ‘negative’ short factual story about the fact that, despite the great hockey on the ice, we still can’t get people to come out to the games. The News and the Times take care of publishing enough happy news about Abbotsford to make the tooth fairy diabetic. Sorry to inject a modicum of reality into the discussion. If we wanted to be the News or the Times we would have castrated ourselves and jumped into of sycophant pool years ago.
    We regularly point out that ending the subsidy would save the taxpayers $10 million a year, closing the arena until a good deal can be made, would save taxpayers money …
    Abbotsford Today has more good to say about the Abbotsford Heat in our Sports Section than the two papers combined. In our Politics Section we treat them like what they are – the biggest waste of taxpayer funds on a private business in the Lower Mainland.
    Maybe the fact we are still talking about this seven years after Plan A and four years after George Peary’s Deal and nobody has still had the courage to deal with it is an indication someone should still be talking about it.
    Re-read the first line of the column.

  • Gerda Peachey says:

    Hello Kagey: On the surface you make good sense. It was a dumb deal, we’re stuck with it, get over it.
    But are we doomed to being locked into this one-sided dream deal?
    Here’s an excerpt between me and Bruce Banman, Oct. 9/12……..
    5. What is the date by which you must notify Global Spectrum that you will, or will not renew their contract/agreement?

    There is an agreement in place until 2019 without an early termination clause.

    6. What is the date by which you must notify the private owners of the Abbotsford Heat hockey team that you will or will not renew their contract/agreement?

    There is an agreement in place until 2019 without an early termination clause.

    7. How much did it cost the City for the consultant who advised that Council should receive an automatic, annual raise?

    It was under $10 thousand. This was reported publicly.

    However a reading of the contracts specifies that notice must be given a year in advance of termination. But though our council was out of their league as they merrily consigned all of us to deals with very alert operators who are in this for profit, (theirs – not ours), there are some expectations written into those contracts. Global Spectrum has not delivered at all well, yet our city allows these deals to go unchallenged.
    The concern here is that unless the community keeps these very bad contracts in the light, council will just roll them over.
    Municipal councils should not be in the business of big-name entertainment. Bruce will say, well what then? Do we just fill the AESC with cement? No need to do that. There’s enough cement in some of the heads at City Hall.
    I think we should put it on the market, sell it to the highest bidder, and take our losses.
    In the long run, having AESC under the City, which in turn gives it over to Global Spectrum, while of course Abbotsford taxpayers must pay the big capital cost loan, and huge maintenance……just get this albatross off our necks. If it can be made profitable, the private folk are the only ones who can make that happen.

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