By Keaton Robbins
The Brampton Battalion hockey club will soon be on the move to North Bay.
As part of the agreement reached Monday night, the team signed a 15-year lease to play at the city’s Memorial Gardens and includes a $12 million renovation plan for the arena.
The move is also dependent upon the North Bay franchise selling 2,000 tickets over three years.
Brampton Battalion President Mike Griffin said he’s excited about the support and enthusiasm the team is already receiving from fans in North Bay since announcing the move.
“I believe North Bay has 100 per cent confidence that they’ll surpass that number,” Griffin said when asked if the deal could fall apart over ticket sales.
“They haven’t even announced the season ticket campaign, but there’s tickets being sold today at the arena and city hall and there were people lining up at 9 a.m.”
The Battalion have already received calls from businesses in North Bay and the surrounding area about corporate sponsorship and advertising, Griffin said.
“The mayor of Mattawa emailed me last night, a community that’s 40 miles away from North Bay, and he committed to four seasons tickets and he’s going to promote the season ticket campaign in Mattawa,” Griffin said.
Sportsnet reporter Tony Ambrogio was one of the first to tweet the relocation news last night and said there’s three major factors for the move.
“I don’t think the GTA is a hockey town, I think the GTA is a Maple Leaf town,” he said.
“There’s no daily newspaper, no daily radio show in Brampton and Mississauga promoting their team,” he added.
As well, he said that “I think a lot of people who are involved in minor hockey, they’re at the rink so much that the last place they want to be is at another rink.”
North Bay had an OHL team called the North Bay Centennials up until 2002, but it was moved to Saginaw, MI.
Sunaya Sapurji, Junior Hockey Editor for Yahoo! Sports, said Tuesday she feels for the die hard Battalion season ticket holders.
‘They had a very difficult time drawing fans. You go anytime they had a home game and all you’d see is empty purple seats,” she said.
North Bay will be a success this time after a 10 year absence from the league, she said.
“In the final year of the team, their numbers were down but that was because the owners already made the decision to move the team to Saginaw,” Sapurji said. “They didn’t put a lot of effort into marketing the team or the product on the ice because they were moving.”