Battalion move to North Bay approved
KEN PAGAN, QMI Agency
|The OHL's Battalion franchise will move from Brampton to North Bay beginning with the 2013-14 season. (Bob Tymczyszyn/QMI Agency/Files)
The vote took "about 2.3 seconds," according to Brampton Battalion president Mike Griffin.
All the OHL governors in the room were asked to raise their hand if they were in favour of the Battalion relocating to North Bay next season.
Everyone raised their hand in unanimous support.
And with that, the North Bay Battalion were born. The franchise will move from Brampton to North Bay beginning in 2013-14, following the OHL's unanimous approval of the Battalion's relocation request at a board of governors meeting in Toronto Monday.
Upon learning of the decision, which followed a presentation by City of North Bay officials and Battalion executives, team owner Scott Abbott was seen emerging from the boardroom with a broad smile.
Griffin said the presentation made on the North Bay's behalf by Mayor Al McDonald, CAO Jerry Knox and community services director Peter Chirico was "superb.
"A lot of the governors are very happy for Scott," Griffin said. "Everyone was extremely favourable. Scott is a happy guy right now. He's very pleased and very proud."
Griffin said he was confident heading into Monday's meeting — he had informally discussed with some OHL colleagues the direction the Battalion were leaning toward as early as August — but did not want to take things for granted.
"The presentation by city staff went very well and I can't say enough about how well-prepared they were," Griffin said.
During their presentation, city officials answered a few questions regarding the $12-million in planned renovations for Memorial Gardens and the timelines for completing the work, but there were no objections.
Two weeks ago, the Battalion came to an agreement-in-principle with North Bay to relocate the team next season and begin a 15-year lease, pending a commitment of at least 2,000 season tickets for the first three seasons and $12-million in renovations at Memorial Gardens.
The deal required Monday's approval from the OHL's board of governors. The season-ticket count is now at 2,146 and rising.
Griffin said the team's immediate priority is to finalize renovation plans at Memorial Gardens.
The club has already hired a staff member to set up in an office at City Hall and team officials will also be back between Brampton and North Bay over the next few weeks setting up contacts for corporate and advertising packages, getting in touch with season-ticket holders and laying the foundation for the franchise's transition.
The planned renovations include a reconfigured ice surface of 200-by-85 feet (from the current 190-by 90), new seating, 10 corporate suites, improved dressing room and fitness facilities, a new video scoreboard, administration and retail facilities, concession upgrades as well as HVAC and sound/lighting improvements.
There are still architectural plans to finalize, Griffin said, but the target date to complete renovations will be mid-August.