Taxpayers in Abbotsford are once again on the hook to cover major financial losses by the city's professional hockey club after the Abbotsford Heat finished last season with a $1.76 million shortfall.

In 2010 Abbotsford city council signed a deal with the Abbotsford Heat hockey team that guaranteed the club $5.7 million in annual revenue.

Taxpayers have already covered a $450,000 revenue shorfall for the first year of the deal, and a $1.3 million shortage for the second year.

The Heat play their home games at the 7,000-seat Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, which is owned by the city and was built for $82 million in 2009. 

City manager Frank Pizzuto said attendance last season was short about 1,300 fans per game. The break-even point is 3,900 tickets. 

"We're disappointed. We obviously have to work harder to make sure attendance and the collateral activity improves at the sports centre so the taxpayers doesn't have to support the AHL team."           

Pizzuto says the NHL lockout and two games against the Canucks' farm team have boosted attendance so far this season.

The Heat is a farm team for the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames.