It’s officially official.
The Vancouver Canucks and the City of Abbotsford have reached a “partnership agreement,” officially confirming that the Fraser Valley city will host a new professional hockey team this fall.
The worst kept secret in the Lower Mainland for nearly two months, the Canucks first announced their intention to move their AHL team from Utica to Abbotsford on May 4.
The Canucks have already begun securing ticket deposits and asking fans for input on a new team name. But the deal wasn’t official until today.
“On behalf of Council and the residents of Abbotsford, I’m pleased to officially welcome the Vancouver Canucks’ American Hockey League affiliate team to Abbotsford,” said Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun. “This new partnership fosters strong ongoing community connections and economic benefits for years to come. We’re grateful to Francesco, the Aquilini family and the Canucks for their work in making this agreement a reality and for helping to solidify Abbotsford as a leader for events, entertainment, and sport in the Fraser Valley.”
This is the second time the City of Abbotsford has entered into a partnership with an NHL team, and there’s plenty of reason to believe it will go a lot better than their experience with the Calgary Flames.
The Abbotsford Heat called the Fraser Valley home from 2009 to 2014 in a money-losing partnership for Abbotsford because of their agreement with the Flames. Former Abbotsford Mayor George Peary signed a 10-year deal with the Heat that guaranteed the team $5.7 million a year in revenue.
The deal was so bad for the city that it paid $5.5 million to end the contract early. In the end, the agreement cost Abbotsford $12 million.
The Heat didn’t draw well at the Abbotsford Centre, but that is something that is expected to be different for a Canucks-affiliated team.
“We’re thrilled to finalize our partnership with the City of Abbotsford and can’t wait to bring the AHL and our Canucks prospects home to the Fraser Valley,” said Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini. “Thank you to Mayor Braun and his staff for their collaboration and commitment. Our partnership will have a positive impact in the local community, and we look forward to building important local relationships with fans in the weeks and months ahead.”
“The American Hockey League is looking forward to returning to Abbotsford this fall,” said AHL President and CEO Scott Howson. “With the Fraser Valley’s location in the heart of Vancouver Canucks country and with the Canucks’ commitment to the region, we have confidence that the partnership between the club and the City of Abbotsford will be a successful one.”
The Canucks say that thousands of fans have made $25 ticket deposits to get “front of the line” priority access. Details about ticket prices, schedule, team name, logo, and other information will be announced in the weeks ahead.
Abbotsford will compete in the AHL’s Pacific Division next season, along with the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim), Ontario Reign (Los Angeles), Tucson Roadrunners (Arizona), Colorado Eagles (Colorado), San Jose Barracuda (San Jose), Stockton Heat (Calgary), Henderson Silver Knights (Vegas), and Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton). The Seattle Kraken’s AHL team will also join the division when Palm Springs enters the AHL in 2022-23.