The consortium involved in Thunder Bay's proposed event centre says an American Hockey League team makes sense for the city, even though a city in British Columbia is now looking to get out a contract with an AHL team.
Abbotsford, B.C., is paying millions of dollars to get out of the deal that guaranteed revenue in order to attract the team to the city.
A spokesperson with BBB Architects, which is part of the pro-event centre Thunder Bay LIVE! Group, said it's best to locate a National Hockey League farm team close to the parent team, and that was not the case in Abbotsford.
"Having an American Hockey League franchise of the Winnipeg Jets, being that Thunder Bay is part of their marketplace, their television rights, that makes a tremendous amount of sense,” Gary Green said.
Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said the fact that its AHL team was located far away from other AHL franchises was a contributor to the venture’s downfall. He added Thunder Bay needs to do its due diligence before signing a contract to avoid his city's experience.
"Prior administration guaranteed the team that they would not make less than $5.7 million in revenue. From day one, that never came to be,” he said.
If the Thunder Bay's event centre goes ahead, there will be no promise of annual revenue for any hockey team, city manager Tim Commisso said.
"I can tell you right now we're not interested in guaranteeing any losses, or moving forward on anything other than … ‘for this number of dates, this is how much you'll pay to use the facility’."
Commisso noted the markets of Abbotsford and Thunder Bay are very different, but the city will learn from any mistakes made by other communities.