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Calgary’s AHL affiliate parts ways with Abbotsford

Apr 15, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT

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Calgary’s’ relationship with the city of Abbotsford reached an abrupt end on Tuesday, as the city announced it was buying the Flames’ AHL affiliate out of the remaining five years of their 10-year deal.

Here’s more, from CBC:

Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman joined CEO of the Calgary Flames, Ken King, and president of  Abbotsford Heat, Ryan Walter, at the announcement on Tuesday morning.

Banman said in total the contract with the team has cost the city more than $12 million since 2009, when then-mayor George Peary signed a ten-year deal with the Heat to guarantee $5.7 million a year in revenue.

The Heat has had a tough time filling the city-owned 7,000-seat Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre and faced major hurdles winning fans, including a lack of local interest — as most AHL franchises are located in the east — and the team’s affiliation with the Calgary Flames, a rival of the Vancouver Canucks.

With the team pulling in around 2,000 fewer fans per game than the minor hockey league average, taxpayers in Abbotsford have covered  $7.2 million in losses in five years, plus the costs associated with owning and running the stadium.

The Heat are currently in the midst of the Calder Cup playoffs — they’ll begin an opening-round series in San Antonio on Thursday — and are planning to leave Abbotsford following the end of the postseason.

No word yet on where Calgary plans to relocate the team, though reports suggest it could be on the way to Glens Falls, New York.

  1. stcrowe - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    A WHL team might be a better option for Abbotsford.

    • pensfan1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 7:37 AM

      There was one in the area twice before in Chilliwack (Bruins) but they also left to Victoria. The Vancouver Giants are also a few miles away. For whatever reason, higher levels of hockey don’t catch on in the Lower Mainland of BC.

  2. kaptaanamerica - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    The mayor who brought the Heat in to the city had to have been a complete f*ing idiot to think he could put a flames affiliate in the middle of Canuck country… what a maroon… if the clown had done that the Canucks could have easily slid into the arena and sold it out game after game..

    • kaptaanamerica - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:21 PM

      when i say the Canucks, i obviously mean their affiliate which was conveniently looking for a place last season. why the city didn’t buy out the Heat lease then and let the Canucks put their affiliate there makes no sense. they had to buy out the Heat anyway..

    • comeonnowguys - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:42 PM

      Just as long as they don’t come back to western Illinois. Not that it’s even in danger of happening again.

    • pigeonbutt - Apr 15, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      You’re 100% right and it is a pure shame. Both provinces are ravenous supporters of the “lower” tiers of hockey and as much fun as the rivalry between the big teams are I can’t help but feel bad that their youngin’s (and ours) don’t get to play in front of an interested crowd, let alone one that’s not situated in the heart of enemy territory…

      And it really does raise questions. Weren’t the Canucks trying to bargain last year to get them to eat up the contract so they could move in? What makes this year different, especially if Calgary is supposedly looking at NY – where the Canucks farm team is now?

      Just seems like such a wasted opportunity.

      • kaptaanamerica - Apr 16, 2014 at 4:58 PM

        the entire city council should be turfed. an investigation should be done to see if there were any bribes, kickbacks, etc.. in the building of the facility.

  3. rushledger - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    The glens falls flames has a good ring to it.

    If teams keep going to NY. Rochester, Adirondack, Utica, Albany, Binghamton, Syracuse, plus possibly glen falls? That’s a division in itself under the new NHL set up.

    • Jackson Scofield - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:39 PM

      Glen Falls = Adirondack
      Phantoms moving to Allentown, Pa. as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

  4. atwatercrushesokoye - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    Travel to and from Abbotsford is just too much for them and other teams, apparently the Heat lost 45 practices this year due to travel, that’s too much for a team that’s supposed to be a developmental team. Perhaps if thy moved a few teams out West it would make more sense but when your division consists of teams in Texas, Oklahoma and North Carolina being on the west coast doesn’t make sense, plus as previously pointed out having the Flames minor league team right in the middle of Canucks territory is just stupid.

  5. luz56 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:47 AM

    As far back as I can remember the Flames have played in many small towns and can’t seem to get their crap together outside of the time in SLC

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      That’s the majority of minor league hockey teams, just look at history and you’ll always see teams flipping locations or trading affiliates to try and get a better deal.

  6. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    Moving away from Abbotsford makes sense, but moving them to NY… not so much. You’d think you’d want your affiliate a little closer to home, not a couple time zones over. Especially for a rebuilding team like Calgary, who will be calling up and sending down prospects a lot more often.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      Not really an option with how the AHL is set up in geography, one of the reasons the Heat lost so much money is because of travel costs. Oh well, every other western conference team makes it work, the Kings have had their minor league affiliate in Manchester (I believe that’s in New Hampshire?) for years.

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