Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wenatchee Wild Moving to Texas for 2013-14:


It looks like the Wenatchee Wild won't be joining the BCHL next season unless someone else puts a team in the Eastern Washington community.

Here's the latest from the Wenatchee World newspaper:

The North American Hockey League announced today that the Wenatchee Wild are moving to Texas.

The team, coach and staff will relocate to Hidalgo, Texas, and become the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.

“We are excited about the move to the Rio Grande Valley and our mission to field a championship-caliber team every season remains the same,” team President Bill Stewart said in a prepared statement on the NAHL website this morning. “The area has a great hockey tradition and we believe that the region and the surrounding community will embrace and support the NAHL.”

The announcement comes a day after the Wild lost in the Robertson Cup championship game and just one day before the team’s current five-year contract to use the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee expires.

On Sunday, Stewart called an arena official to ask for five additional days to move his operation out.

Stewart said at a news conference in Texas today that while team was successful in Wenatchee, he could not work out a new contract with the Town Toyota Center officials to continue leasing the facility.

He also said travel to play other teams would be much shorter in Texas. From Wenatchee, the team had to fly to play other teams and also pays the travel expenses for some teams to come to Wenatchee.

KGBT television reported that Stewart said the decision to move the team was “an easy one.”

The move leaves the Wenatchee arena with no team contracted to play hockey this fall, at least for now. Arena officials have been talking with other leagues for several weeks about the prospect of bringing a new team to Wenatchee.

The arena’s attorney, Pete Fraley, said this morning that he could not comment on the status of those efforts.

Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz, who also sits on the arena board, said today that arena officials "are working their butts off to make sure we have hockey this fall."

The arena’s board and the Wild ownership began talking in January about a new contract, but reached an impasse in early April.

At a May 6 meeting of the arena’s board, Stewart told a crowd of about 100 fans that he wanted to sit down and talk with the board to work out a new contract. The board sent a revised contract to Stewart the next day, but heard nothing from him until Sunday, when he asked for more time to move out.

There has also been no more talk of Stewart having a British Columbia Hockey League team that would play at the arena. His application to have a team in the Canadian league has not been approved yet by Hockey Canada. The organization is expected to make a decision on that at a May 24-26 meeting.

However, BCHL spokesman Brent Mutis said last week that if Stewart does not have a contract to play at the Town Toyota Center then he would not be able to play in the league.

"As mayor, I want hockey in the Town Toyota Center and I want that building to be successful," Kuntz said. "But I also want owners that want to be here. We'll work as hard as we can to get hockey here. We have a great hockey community and a great building for it."

Michelle McNiel: 664-7152
mcniel@wenatcheeworld.com

1 comment:

  1. Contract expires team moves to new location... Sounds very familiar to Chilliwack fans.

    Of course the "Franchise" was gone if his application for BCHL entry was to be successful. But the Team infrastructure ? Will be pretty difficult to replace for the upcoming season if at all.

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