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City of Abbotsford ceases contract with Abbotsford Heat hockey team

DH Vancouver Staff Apr 14, 2014 7:03 pm

The City of Abbotsford will be terminating its contract with the AHL Abbotsford Heat hockey team.

Global BC reports that a formal announcement will be made Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. during a press conference.

Limited details are available at this time; it is not known whether the a new contract will be signed or the team will be relocated, Global BC reported.

The team has been a financial drain on the municipality since it relocated to Abbotsford in the 2009-2010 season after a two year stint at Moline, Illinois. The City of Abbotsford signed a ten year contract with the team to cover any shortfalls beyond its annual guaranteed revenues of $5.7 million.

However, the team has failed to break even with Abbotsford taxpayers bailing out the franchise on an annual basis ever since the inaugural year. Abbotsford provided the Heat with $450,000 in the 2000-2010 season, $1.37 million in 2010-2011, and $1.76 million in 2011-2012.

Receding game attendance has been the source of the team’s financial hardships. The average attendance last season was 3,778 fans per game at the 2007-built, $64.7 million City-owned Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre. During the 2012-2013 season, average game attendance was less than 2,500, placing the team dead last in the 30 franchise league.

Attendance issues could lie with the team’s designation as a farm team of the NHL Calgary Flames, a rival team of the Vancouver Canucks, and the Fraser Valley’s relatively small and rural population to support such a business.

In addition to subsidizing the Heat’s operational costs, taxpayers are also responsible for about $2 million in annual hockey arena maintenance subsidies.


Featured Image: Abbotsford Heat


DH Vancouver Staff
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