Thursday, April 28, 2011

Prospera Centre Owners Negotiating With Owners of BCHL's Millionaires:

We've heard from the Quesnel side of things as it relates to the sale of the Millionaires, but now here's the latest from the Chilliwack side:

By Tyler Olsen, Chilliwack Times

The operators of Prospera Centre are in discussions with the owners of the Quesnel Millionaires about possibly bringing the struggling British Columbia Hockey League franchise to Chilliwack next year.

Glen Ringdal, a consultant working with Prospera Centre owners Chiefs Development Group, confirmed to the Times that CDG spoke to Millionaires part owner Bob Sales Wednesday evening.

He said they spoke "just to see what their situation is and what ours is."

Ringdal said that no offer has been made for the club but that another talk was planned.

"I'm going to meet with them again and we're going to see if we've moved any closer," said Ringdal. "They had to go away and think about some things and we had to go think about some things. So we'll see."

Ringdal said there is no imminent announcement and that CDG has "10 days to two weeks" to make a decision about bringing a hockey team to Chilliwack.

The Millionaires have been bleeding money in recent years while the city lobbied the province and federal government—and even the CBC—for help funding a new arena.

In a submission to CBC's Hockeyville contest last year, Millionaires part-owner Kit Collins pleaded for help funding a new rink.

"Quesnel has the reputaion for the worst arena in the BCHL," she wrote. "It is the smallest and most uncomfortable for fans to sit. Please help us."

Ringdal said that the Millionaires are just one of the groups with whom CDG is speaking, but wouldn't name the others.

"There's still three leagues that have some potential," he said, "the WHL, the BCHL and the ECHL."

Ringdal said CDG has "not closed the door" on the possibility of bringing a Western Hockey League team to Chilliwack, but said CDG and the WHL haven't spoken in two weeks.

Ringdal said that CDG badly wants to have a hockey team playing out of Prospera Centre next year, but that a hockey tenant isn't absolutely necessary for the building to be profitable and that "we have to be responsible because our shareholder is the city and the taxpayer has not given us the right to put it into the hole by subsidizing a hockey team."

He said any BCHL team would have to operate without a subsidy from the community, but that Chilliwack's fan base should make that possible.

The way has also been cleared for a BCHL team in Chilliwack to be named the Chiefs after the announcement this week that the Langley Chiefs will be rebranded as the Rivermen next year.

Beyond hockey, Ringdal said CDG will try to respond to requests to expand the breadth of Prospera Centre's offerings.

"We are going to be working harder here at the building to attract additional events other than hockey," he said.

In the past, hockey scheduling has taken precedence and, Ringdal admitted, "with all due respect, we just haven't put enough effort into it."

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