Nfld. & Labrador

Still no replacement found for IceCaps at Mile One Centre

Unless a new main tenant is found for Mile One Centre in St. John's, the facility will be a quieter place next year.

Coun. Sandy Hickman says staffing could be cut if no regular tenant found to replace AHL team

The City of St. John's is exploring options to offset the loss of its full-time hockey tenant, the St. John's IceCaps, which is leaving at the end of this season. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Unless a new main tenant is found for Mile One Centre in St. John's, the facility could be a quieter place next year.

The Montreal Canadiens are moving their American Hockey League (AHL) team – the St. John's IceCaps – once the current season is done this spring.

Mile One was built for spectator entertainment, not for public ice rentals.- Coun. Sandy Hickman

The city has put out a call to the AHL, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League to see if another hockey team may be interested in moving in to Mile One, but so far no clubs have expressed interest.

"I would assume that the Quebec major junior league would be the primary target," said Coun. Sandy Hickman. "But there certainly are no franchises or owners from the Q or the American league or the east coast league knocking on our door at this time."

Staff impact

One of the original driving factors for building Mile One before its opening in 2001 was to house the St. John's Maple Leafs, the AHL team which eventually left the city in 2005.

St. John's city councillor Sandy Hickman says staffing adjustments would be inevitable if a replacement can't be found for the IceCaps. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Ever since the leafs left, it's been a series of up and downs when it comes to keeping a local hockey team. Just three years after being founded, the QMJHL Fog Devils franchise left as well.

While Mile One does host a variety of non-sporting events throughout the year, having a team like the IceCaps as a full-time tenant meant staff at the facility could expect to get consistent work throughout the season.

One of the driving factors behind the construction of Mile One Centre was a new home to host the AHL team the St. John's Maple Leafs. However, the club left the city four years after the facility opened. (CBC)

Now, the whole financial structure of Mile One could be reworked, leaning more on public ice rentals to generate revenue — something Hickman said was not part of the original vision for the stadium.

"Mile One was built for spectator entertainment, not for public ice rentals," he said.

"It would be structured different, especially in terms of staffing. Part-time staff wouldn't be required as much, and there's no question there would be empty evenings there and lost ice time."

Still trying

Hickman said city officials will continue working to find a regular tenant to replace the IceCaps, but there's a good chance another AHL team won't be moving in.

"If there is no primary hockey tenant, then it turns into an events building, for concerts and trade shows — and it will be an ice skating rink otherwise," he said.

"We certainly would never be able to fill all the dates left by the IceCaps. It would be impossible and not expected, I'm sure."

With files from Randal Wheeler