New Brunswick

Moncton taxpayers to pay $125K to move Wildcats game to Fredericton

Moncton City Council held a special emergency meeting on Tuesday night to debate paying the Moncton Wildcats $125,000 to move an upcoming playoff game to Fredericton.

A scheduling conflict at the Coliseum forces Moncton Wildcats to play Game 5 at Aitken Centre

The Moncton Wildcats are preparing for a home playoff game... in Fredericton. A scheduling conflict is forcing the change - and costing Moncton taxpayers over a hundred thousand dollars to boot. 2:10

Moncton City Council held a special emergency meeting on Tuesday night to debate paying the Moncton Wildcats $125,000 to move an upcoming play off game to Fredericton.

The Wildcats defeated the Halifax Mooseheads 4-3 on Tuesday night, which means Game 5 will be necessary but it can't be played on home ice at the Moncton Coliseum since the Coliseum is already booked by the Radical Speed Sport East show.

Ryan Jenner, the director of business operations for the Wildcats, said there isn't another rink in Moncton the team could use for the game.

"It's as simple as they're not a league-approved facility," he said "We did entertain Saint John as well, but the ice isn't in that facility as well, so Fredericton was our next option."

Coun. Brian Hicks says the double booking is a costly mistake for citizens.

"It's a very expensive message costing taxpayers $125,000 for just one hockey game at a time when Moncton is facing a structural deficit and the tax rate could go up another 11 to 17 cents," Hicks said at the meeting.

After a lengthy debate Moncton city council agreed to compensate the Wildcats for moving the game to the Aitken Centre on the University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton.

Two contracts for the same date

Coun. Daniel Bourgeois says the Wildcats have a signed agreement with the city.

"Give priority to the Irving-owned Wildcats — this is our major tenant we will honour this agreement."

Coun. Charles Leger also voted in favour of the payment to the Wildcats, but says having two signed contracts promising the Moncton Coliseum for the same date should never happen again.

"We have quite a weight on our shoulders a the moment but I think this is one way to move this forward."

Mayor George LeBlanc did not chair the emergency meeting, citing a conflict of interest. One of the interested parties, Show Associates, has been a client of his on occasion, he said.

Deputy Mayor Shawn Crossman was away.

The final vote was six in favour of the decision to compensate the Wildcats, and three against.

Coun. Dawn Arnold says it was a tough situation.

"I think that if we were to go ahead with a game on the Friday in our Coliseum and compromised our trade show, I think that this would have very bad long term reputational risks to the city of Moncton and to all of us," Arnold said.

Coun. Paulette Theriault said the team is important to the city.

"We should not forget that they're the major tenants and they bring a lot to the city and so do Speed Sport East, so no matter which way we're cutting this we were not in a good situation," Theriault said. 

Fredericton 'best option' say Wildcats

In a news release on Tuesday night the Wildcats said Game 5 is now scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. at the Aitken Centre.

"We understand this is not an ideal situation," said director of business operations Ryan Jenner.

​"However, this is our best option given the circumstances and in the spirit of cooperation and consideration for our various community partners."

Tickets for Game 5 are on sale and Jenner says anyone who has already purchased tickets for Friday night's game will have a seat held for them in Fredericton.

Fans with season or flex ticket packages who can't make it to Fredericton will receive a credit against their 2015-16 season ticket package.

Jenner says the Wildcats appreciate the flexibility and understanding of their fans.

"We know they will show their support for our Wildcats for this important game."

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