April 15 2014 08:15AM
UPDATE 3: Details.
Per the press release, the City of Abbotsford will pay the Flames $5.5 million to get out of the remaining 5 years of the deal - and it's actually LESS than the city projected they would lose if they stayed. (They paid the Heat $5.2 million over the past 4 years, after all.) They thanked the Flames for working with them, noting they had no legal obligation to negotiate with the City to end the deal. (They could've sat there and taken the free money, in other words.)
Ken King had this to say, via the press release:
“In 2010 we came to Abbotsford with our AHL affiliate at the behest of the City Administration of the day,” said King. “Our aims were simple: to establish a home in the American Hockey League where we could develop our younger players in a strong community environment. The economics did not turn out the way any of us intended, despite the tremendous efforts of many men and women who made it their mission to convert the allegiances of local hockey fans, at least at the AHL level, to the Heat.”
King added: “Notwithstanding economics, our experiences here in the Fraser Valley have beengood. We made good friends here, have wonderful local partners and believe that our players have been served well in this market. Unfortunately, the time has come for us to move on.”
UPDATE 2: It's official.
UPDATE: Presser starts imminently. But...
Ryan Walter tells me #AHLHeat are indeed leaving.— Dan Kinvig (@DanKinvig) April 15, 2014
After five seasons of relative stability, the Calgary Flames' primary AHL affiliate may be on the move again.
Amy Judd of Global News in the Vancouver area is reporting that the City of Abbotsford, which owns and operates the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, will be terminating its deal with the Calgary Flames and the Abbotsford Heat after five seasons.
The Abbotsford Heat came to the city for the 2009-10 season, after signing a 10-year contract guaranteeing the team $5.7 million every year. In the first four years of the 10-year deal, the Heat cost Abbotsford taxpayers $5.24 million. Figures for this season have not yet been released.
It's unclear if the termination of the deal would lead to a revised pact for the Heat, or the team relocating. Glen Falls, NY - the home of the Adirondack Phantoms (the Flyers affiliate) - will soon be without a tenant as the Phantoms move to Allentown, PA. Rumours have long had the Heat moving closer to the other AHL clubs on the East Coast (or even the Midwest), as the constant travel does cost the Heat practice days.
The Heat arrived in the Fraser Valley in 2009, after the Flames affiliate had bounced around Omaha and the Quad Cities. The club has enjoyed some on-ice success, but seriously cannot draw crowds. Like, at all, frequently being the worst AHL market for attendance. The Heat finished off their regular season home schedule on Sunday with a shootout loss to the Oklahoma City Barons.
A press conference regarding a new "strategic direction" for the AESC has been called for 11am MT (10am local), at which time hopefully some light is shed on the seemingly never-ending Abbotsford arena saga.