´╗┐Photo Credit: 5of7/Flickr

Report: Flames Moving AHL Team to Utica; Canucks Team in Abbotsford?

According to a report in the Utica Observer-Dispatch, the Calgary Flames will be moving their American Hockey League team, the Abbotsford Heat, to Utica, New York for the 2013-14 season.

Sources tell the newspaper that a ten-year deal has been reached between the Flames and the city for the Heat to relocate and play out of the 5,700-seat Utica Memorial Auditorium beginning this fall. An official announcement is expected to happen ” on or about March 23.”

The Vancouver Canucks are currently in the final year of a two-year affiliation agreement with the Chicago Wolves. Wolves general manager Wendell Young has expressed interest in re-upping their affiliation agreement, but it doesn’t appear that will be happening.

There were rumblings back in August that Canucks owner Franceso Aquilini and Canucks Sports & Entertainment was attempting to purchase the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre from the city of Abbotsford, but the sale probably didn’t happen because he couldn’t get his own team into the arena.

The city has a ten-year agreement with the Flames that started in 2009 that guaranteed the Flames, the owners of the Heat, annual revenue of $5.7 million. Any revenue generated in excess that number would be split between the two parties. The Heat haven’t been generating that kind of revenue and has been losing money for the past for the past four seasons.

The Flames, on the other hand, have consistently earned money having their team in Abbotsford due to guaranteed revenue. Despite, the team failing at the gate, there was no incentive for them to move elsewhere unless they get as good, if not a better deal in another city.

To move into Abbotsford, the Canucks will need to purchase an AHL team and move it to the city. The Canucks could be granted an expansion franchise as well, but one of the existing franchises would have to suspend operations for the season or operate without an NHL affiliate.

Update: The Calgary Flames have responded to the story and told Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun this:


Photo Credit: 5of7/Flickr

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