The Vancouver Canucks have a six-year agreement in place with Mohawk Valley Garden (MVG) to operate the Utica Comets, according to the Utica Observer-Dispatch.
MVG, led by former NHL goaltender Robert Esche, will handle business operations while the Canucks will have full control of hockey operations. This means MVG won’t be able to sign their own players to American Hockey League contracts.
“We signed a multi-year agreement,” Canucks vice-president of hockey operations Laurence Gilman told the newspaper. “We are deeply committed to be here, and we will ice as great a team as possible.”
The deal contains multiple out-clauses throughout the agreement for both the Canucks and MVG. Esche believes the Canucks will be reluctant to use them and if they do, they will be heavily in MVG and Utica’s favour.
It appears the Comets won’t be a guaranteed break-even operation for the Canucks.
Gilman told the Observer-Dispatch that the city of Utica will not have to make-up any operating losses to the Canucks. He made another—somewhat contradictory—statement to the Vancouver Sun saying the Canuck’s wouldn’t “bear the risk” financially.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced an additional $3 million of state funding to upgrade the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The state had already previously set aside $2 million in the state budget. This brings the total amount to $5 million.
Infrastructure improvements include enhancing the arena’s façade, HVAC updates, and electrical system upgrades. Additionally, the resources will be used to construct new locker rooms—both home and away, a work out facility, medical facility, players’ lounge, upgrades to food service areas, a new video scoreboard and hospitality club boxes.
The Auditorium currently seats 3,800 for hockey and the addition of club boxes (luxury suites) will likely push the capacity closer to 4,000.