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[Report] Calgary Flames to move Farm Club to Utica


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#1 -Vintage Canuck-

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:18 PM

A report out of Utica, NY, says the Flames will move their farm team there for next season:

No longer rumor, but fact - professional hockey will once again be on display in New York's Mohawk Valley. An American Hockey League affiliate will be in operation for the 2013-2014 season. The Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League's western conference will be developing their talent in the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Utica last had an AHL team during the 1992-'93 seasson , the final season of the New Jersey Devils six-season run at the Aud.


Here's what we do know, according to a reliable source. A 10-year deal has been struck with the Flames. There had been discussion in previous months that an AHL affiliate could be relocated to Utica, but not until the 2014-'15 season, due to scheduling issues. As far as any opt-out clause in the deal, I don't know for sure if or when one has been added. However, you would think an escape route, for both parties ( local operators and the Flames ) would/should want one. 10 years is infinity and beyond in any relationship.


A lobbying firm in Albany is involved with those locally who will be managing the franchise. Two sources have informed us that public money is being pursed in conjunction with the return of professional hockey to Utica. There are a few phases of upgrades to the Aud planned. Skyboxes are in the plans to be added to the 54-year old arena, however it isn't clear at this time during what planning phase work will get under way.


Season tickets - At this stage of planning, no definite dollar amount has been decided. Once an official announcement is made, on or about March 23 of the Flames relocating their AHL franchise to Utica, it wouldn't be a stretch to think that telemarketing-like phone calls will begin.


Locker room / training facilities : Some cleaning out of rooms in the lower level of the Aud have already been done we are informed. To the right of the Utica College hockey locker room entrance, this is the space where the new locker room and training facility will be constructed. We are told that the UC teams ( men & women ) will have access to the training facility.


Scheduling : At this time, the UC men's schedule is said to be honored for next season.


Management : The well known, well experienced local management team in the hockey world are expected to assume management of the Aud, from concessions to parking. We understand that the area behind the Aud, where fans for UC games and other events park in the street, will be paved and made into a parking lot(s).


Video Scoreboard : Plans are to replace the current scoreboard with a modern video scoreboard , of which UC games would have access to.


Ironically, in 1993 when the Devils relocated their AHL franchise to Albany where they became known as the River Rats, it was the Calgary Flames who purchased the team and relocated to St. John, New Brunswick.


Will there be support for professional hockey in the Mohawk Valley? This is the several million dollar question. If you study the attendance figures of the Utica College men's program, the answer would be a resounding - yes. Ticket prices are an important factor when kids and families have continued to support the programs. At $6.00 for adults and $2.00 for non-Utica College students, the games are highly affordable. AHL ticket prices clearly will be north of what UC charges. This is where recruiting season ticket and mini-plans, and single-game ticket sales will get a bit sticky. UC fans, as well as hockey fans in general, would have to get used to paying higher, professional hockey ticket prices.


Clearly, the local management team leaders know the region well and are experienced in every facet in the operation of an AHL franchise. They will be investing greatly in bring professional hockey back to the area. It appears that they have the cooperation of all the necessary parties needed to make this project succeed.


http://www.uticaod.c...013-2014-Season

Does that mean Canucks would go from Chicago to Abby? Hope so. :towel:
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#2 Sidney Crosby.

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:25 PM

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Almost seemed wrong having Calgary's farm team in Abbotsford. Hard to get a solid fan base right in Canucks country. I would love to see the Canucks move an AHL team to Abbotsford, definatly would go to more games!
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#3 linden16kesler17

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:36 PM

As much as it would be awesome to have the Canucks farm in Abbey, what happens in the mean time? There was a big controversy over the sports complex and I thought there was already a big contract in place with the Flames when it opened...

Interesting.

Edit: After doing some Googling, the contract is 10 years, until 2019 to keep the Heat in Abbey...

Edited by linden16kesler17, 24 February 2013 - 12:41 PM.

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#4 WillyFox

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:36 PM

I'm pretty sure this sets up our affiliate moving to abbotsford which would be awesome seeing how they are on the final year of contract with Chicago I'm pretty sure not 100% sure though. If so id be inclined on purchasing season tickets if the baby canucks come home.
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#5 Kassian's Face

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:38 PM

Thanks for the thread Vintage!
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#6 higgyfan

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:44 PM

Having the Nucks farm team in Abbotsford would be a huge moneymaker for the team. That said, I would be concerned about our young rookies having to play in the 'fishbowl' next to the big club. I guess they'll have to learn the downside of being in a rabid hockey market at a tender age.
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#7 *vInTaGe*

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:47 PM

I wonder how they swung this here in Abby. The team and owners have a great deal here.
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#8 theminister

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:54 PM

Like a lot of people, I've thought for awhile that it was only a matter of time until the Heat get out of Abby and the Nucks would move in. The Wolves will have a fairly easy time finding a replacement affiliate.

It'll be an interesting question which AHL city will be left out in the cold after the reshuffling.

I also believe Canucks Sports and Entertainment will be pushing hard over the next five years to bring a basketball team back to Vancouver as a second tenant for RA. If they can, along with the eventual acquisition of Abby, will give the parent company a real foothold in Lower Mainland sports entertainment, moving it from a one trick pony into a regional powerhouse. It will cost the Aquillinis significant investment coin, I'd guess around $400 million for the two entities, but with the right corporate sponsorship and TV deals, will push the resale value of the sports division well north of $1Billion.

Edited by theminister, 24 February 2013 - 12:55 PM.

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#9 Down by the River

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:07 PM

If you so much as ham a hair on Baertschi's head.... we will burn Utica to the ground.


Edited by Down by the River, 24 February 2013 - 01:09 PM.

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OMG we could've had McKeown!

I think Virtanen was a terrible pick given that he's out for 6 months which will hinder his development. You don't pick someone at #6 under that circumstance, along with the fact that he was given a 3/5 IQ (aka he's dumb). 

God dammit Benning. WHY VIRTANEN? Terrible move.

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#10 Down by the River

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:09 PM

I wonder how they swung this here in Abby. The team and owners have a great deal here.


The team has had financial difficulties (attendance well below projections). The team has cost taxpayers 1.7 mil thus far:

http://www.huffingto..._n_2066742.html

Taxpayers in Abbotsford are once again on the hook to cover major financial losses by the city's professional hockey club after the Abbotsford Heat finished last season with a $1.76 million shortfall.
In 2010 Abbotsford city council signed a deal with the Abbotsford Heat hockey team that guaranteed the club $5.7 million in annual revenue.
Taxpayers have already covered a $450,000 revenue shorfall for the first year of the deal, and a $1.3 million shortage for the second year.


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OMG we could've had McKeown!

I think Virtanen was a terrible pick given that he's out for 6 months which will hinder his development. You don't pick someone at #6 under that circumstance, along with the fact that he was given a 3/5 IQ (aka he's dumb). 

God dammit Benning. WHY VIRTANEN? Terrible move.

Down by the River - Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.


#11 RAMBUTANS

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:10 PM

100 percent Abby will be Canucks AHL team. They will have total control unlike in Chicago. Abby then can stop losing money. Win for both sides.
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#12 TOMapleLaughs

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:13 PM

This is GREAT news. Something tells me this has been in the works since the start.

Abbotsford would gladly kill their lease with the Flames in favour of the Canucks. Abbotsford's taxpayers will especially be glad.
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#13 bobopan

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:16 PM

Seems odd considering they have a hell of a deal with the City of abbotsford basically picking up any losses accured.

As a fan it would be great to see our prospects closer to home, at the same time they'll have the worst travel schedual in the AHL and being in Chicago is a lot more central of a location to bring guys in on a emergency basics if needed.
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#14 RAMBUTANS

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:18 PM

Seems odd considering they have a hell of a deal with the City of abbotsford basically picking up any losses accured.

As a fan it would be great to see our prospects closer to home, at the same time they'll have the worst travel schedual in the AHL and being in Chicago is a lot more central of a location to bring guys in on a emergency basics if needed.


Abbotsforf taxpayers are footing the losses as per the article.
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#15 crossbar and in

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:24 PM

This would make many Canuck fans in the Valley happy to see affordable hockey within driving distance.
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#16 theminister

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:27 PM

This would make many Canuck fans in the Valley happy to see affordable hockey within driving distance.


I'd be happy with them getting a decent regional TV deal, though I too would make the drive quite a few times a year.

The Heat would also need a rebranding.... any suggestions out there for a new name for the Abby AHL affiliate?
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#17 elvis15

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:27 PM

As much as it would be awesome to have the Canucks farm in Abbey, what happens in the mean time? There was a big controversy over the sports complex and I thought there was already a big contract in place with the Flames when it opened...

Interesting.

Edit: After doing some Googling, the contract is 10 years, until 2019 to keep the Heat in Abbey...

So that's the question, the Heat have an agreement to stay in Abbotsford but Calgary is signing on with the Utica team to have them as their AHL affiliate. Unless I'm reading the article wrong, it sounds like the Utica team is a brand new one rather than any team (Abbotsford or otherwise) moving to there.

Abbotsford would still be in the AHL, but have no NHL affiliate and our affiliate agreement with Chicago is up this summer. We could sign with Abbotsford to become our affiliate if we wanted to, but the 'Heat' branding would have to change as a result. It would also mean more travel for our prospects but a greater opportunity to evaluate them closer to the big club.

Interesting, but I'm curious why the Flames chose to make the change.


This would make many Canuck fans in the Valley happy to see affordable hockey within driving distance.

Well, there's already affordable hockey within driving distance, it's just that they're affiliated with the Flames.

Edited by elvis15, 24 February 2013 - 02:03 PM.

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#18 linden16kesler17

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:29 PM


Vicki Hall@vickihallch

Flames statment on Utica: "We have been approached by representatives in Utica concerning an opportunity for the AHL."


Vicki Hall@vickihallch
More Flames on Utica: "We understand they are building a case for the AHL to return there."

Vicki Hall@vickihallch
Still more Flames on Utica:" We are under contract and committed to Abbotsford, and have made no alternate commitments"

I don't know if this person is any more reliable, though.
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#19 Beluga Whale

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:44 PM

I live in Abby and the Heat don't appeal to me at all, but if the Nucks farm team was here I'd go all the time.
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#20 playboi19

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:45 PM

Utica vs Scranton games are going to be epic.
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#21 theminister

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:50 PM

The Abbotsford Arrows?
The Abbotsford Aviators?
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#22 Smashian Kassian

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:52 PM

The Abbotsford Aviators


This is the one I like.

Makes sense and they could probably make some sick jersey's with that name,
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#23 Smashian Kassian

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:55 PM

So that's the question, the Heat have an agreement to stay in Abbotsford but Calgary is signing on with the Utica team to have them as their AHL affiliate. Unless I'm reading the article wrong, it sounds like the Utica team is a brand new one rather than any team (Abbotsford or otherwise) moving to there.

Abbotsford would still be in the AHL, but have no NHL affiliate and our affiliate agreement with Chicago is up this summer. We could sign with Abbotsford to become our affiliate if we wanted to, but the 'Heat' branding would have to change as a result. It would also mean more travel for our prospects but a greater opportunity to evaluate them closer to the big club.

Interesting, but I'm curious why the Flames chose to make the change.


It would work out great, more opportunity to watch the prospects for fans in the area (I would go alot more), easier on callups, and the added travel would prepare them for playing with us.

Plus they would start making money rather than continuously losing it.
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#24 EagleShield

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:58 PM

The Abbotsford Canucks?
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#25 RAMBUTANS

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 02:00 PM

Abbotsford Asians
Abbotsford Aardvarks
Abbotsford Ants
Abbotsford Antlers
Abbotsford Fins
Abbotsford Farmers
Abbotsford Lumberjacks
Abbotsford Aquilinis
Abbotsford Automallers
Abbotsford Valleyviewers
Abbotsford Berry

Edited by Mr. Reputable, 24 February 2013 - 02:08 PM.

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#26 theminister

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 02:02 PM

This is the one I like.

Makes sense and they could probably make some sick jersey's with that name,


I also like the name The Airmen.
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#27 poetica

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 02:11 PM

I don't think it's official so it might not be happening, but I think it would be a great situation for all involved. The Heat might have a better chance getting fans there and Abbotsford would likely let them out of their deal if they knew the Wolves would/could move in right away. Being that the stories about Aquilini wanting to move the Wolves to Abbotsford have been going for a while now, I could see there being just such a 3-way deal. Definitely a more appropriate team for the market for the Wolves, and one almost sure to make money.
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#28 RAMBUTANS

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 02:17 PM

The question is how could Abbotsford guys be so dumb, that they allowed Flames prospect in their building. D'uh. I dont need a degree to know that its not going to work.
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#29 theminister

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 02:17 PM

Could always call them the Admirals so that there would be three of them in the AHL along with Norfolk and Milwaukee.
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#30 surtur

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 02:29 PM

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Abbotsford Millionaires?
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