OHL's Battalion on move to North Bay
DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency
|The Battalion have reached an agreement in principle to relocate to North Bay. (BOB TYMCZYSZYN/QMI Agency file photo)
The Brampton Battalion is on the move.
The Ontario Hockey League team, long-rumoured to be looking for a way out of Brampton, announced Monday that it has reached an agreement in principle to relocate to North Bay for the 2013-14 season.
"I'm pleased that we've reached an agreement-in-principle and look forward to the support of hockey fans in North Bay," Battalion owner Scott Abbott said in a statement posted on the team's website. "The city has a rich hockey history, and we hope to add to it. There's a long-standing association with the military in the community, and it will be a goal of ours to build a Memorial Cup championship team at Memorial Gardens."
On Monday, North Bay city council approved a $12 million capital improvement budget to renovate and expand aging Memorial Gardens. Seating capacity will be increased to 4,246, the ice surface will be reconfigured to regulation size (200 by 85 feet), 10 private boxes will be added and a two-level team dressing room will be built.
The Battalion agreed to a 15-year lease at the arena, "contingent upon a community campaign achieving 2,000 season tickets for a minimum three-year period and subject to approval by the OHL board of governors," the statement said.
"On behalf of the citizens of the city of North Bay and members of council, I extend our thanks to Battalion owner Scott Abbott for his commitment to relocate the team to our community," North Bay Mayor Al McDonald said. "He's considered by many to be the most passionate owner in all of hockey, and I have assured him that fans in North Bay will embrace the return of the OHL to a place it belongs.
"As importantly, our partnership with the Battalion enables us to transform Memorial Gardens into a facility that not only meets the standards for OHL hockey but allows us to attract various other events that in the past we weren't able to bring to North Bay."
The Battalion, which has struggled to consistently draw fans since entering the OHL in 1998-99, is in the final few months of a 15-year lease with the Powerade Centre in Brampton.