Langley Events Centre new home of the Vancouver Giants
Junior hockey's Giants seeking bigger crowds, better atmosphere in move from Vancouver to Langley
They'll still be called the Vancouver Giants, but starting next fall the junior hockey team that has been based at the historic Pacific Coliseum for 15 years will start calling the Langley Events Centre home.
"We should be a full building every night." said Giants' majority owner Ron Toigo about the decision to move to the suburbs. "There will be a real home ice advantage from the noise and ambience."
The Giants have struggled to put a winning team on the ice in recent years, and watched their average attendance drop to just over 5,000 per game last season, not a recipe for an exciting atmosphere in a building which seats over 15,700.
By comparison, the LEC has a seating capacity of 5,276. The Giants have signed a 10-year lease with the LEC according to Toigo.
"This is not an easy move. We've had some good years at the Coliseum. This is not a reflection on the PNE or its staff," he said.
Jason Winslade, general manager of municipal administration and community services for the Township of Langley, which owns the LEC, confirmed there are no subsidies or attendance guarantees in the agreement.
Neighbouring Abbotsford paid out well over $12 million dollars during the five year existence of the Abbotsford Heat because of guarantees and subsidies in the tenancy agreement the team negotiated with the city-owned Abbotsford Entertainment Centre.
For all those asking, we will remain the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/VancouverGiants?src=hash">#VancouverGiants</a>. No re-brand in the books <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BeAGiant?src=hash">#BeAGiant</a>—@WHLGiants
Toigo said he was first approached about moving the Vancouver Giants to the Langley Events Centre two years ago, but didn't give it much thought then. A sold-out exhibition game staged there last preseason prompted him to consider the idea more seriously. The team then commissioned a poll to gauge public opinion on a potential move.
"The numbers came back staggering," said Toigo. "Where our demographic of our seasons ticket base is, where it's been growing, the size of the building ... we just felt this is the right time for this move."
"I'm looking forward to starting a new era.We'll have a new GM and new coach and a whole new direction in the fall."
The junior 'A' Langley Rivermen hockey team will be moving out the LEC to accommodate the Giants, and relocating to the George Preston Arena.