Nfld. & Labrador

Mile One hockey bid on ice until arbitrator rules on Edge owner contract rights

Negotiations to bring an ECHL team to Mile One are on hold until an arbitrator decides whether the St. John's Edge ownership group still has priority.

Competing groups disagree over when period of exclusivity ends for Edge ownership group

A group led by former IceCaps CEO Glenn Stanford has proposed bringing a hockey team to Mile One. (CBC)

Negotiations to bring an ECHL team to Mile One are on hold until an arbitrator decides whether the St. John's Edge ownership group still has priority.

The City of St. John's and the management group that runs the arena issued a statement Monday saying that Atlantic Sports Enterprises, which owns the St. John's Edge basketball team, has asked for binding arbitration.

ASE's contract with St. John's Sports and Entertainment says the group has 30 days to make a counter offer if another group proposes bringing a hockey team to Mile One.

The group has that right until March 31, 2019. 

"A disagreement has arisen as to whether or not this exclusivity period has come to an end," says the statement.

That disagreement centres on a bid from a competing group, led by former IceCaps chief operating officer Glenn Stanford. Last week, Stanford said he believed the exclusivity period had come to an end, while Edge co-owner Rob Sabbagh disagreed.

St. John's Coun. Sandy Hickman says negotiations to bring hockey to Mile One will be suspended until an arbitrator decides whether the St. John's Edge ownership group still has exclusive rights. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Atlantic Sports Enterprises intends to go to binding arbitration over it, said Coun. Sandy Hickman, who characterized the dispute as a misunderstanding.

"It's based on, just a misunderstanding, I think, of communications regarding the intent of the other group to bring a team to St. John's and I really can't go into any more detail than that," he said.

The city and ASE will agree on an arbitrator, said Hickman, they'll both submit their cases, and then "let the process unfold." He added it's too soon to tell how long arbitration will take, but he hopes it's a matter of weeks, not months. Until a decision is made, though, said Hickman, the contract means negotiations to bring hockey to the arena are suspended.

Sabbagh said Monday he couldn't go into detail over the dispute, but referred inquiries to the group's lawyer, saying he'd prefer to focus on the Edge season.

Not a stalling tactic, says co-owner

"I wish there was more I could tell you on that," he said. Sabbagh did confirm his group disagreed that the conditions had been met for the exclusivity period to come to an earlier end.

He also said the request for arbitration isn't a stalling tactic.

"We just want what's fair for all, most importantly the citizens of St. John's. It's unfortunate, but this is where we are right now," he said.

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