The city says a tender process designed to identify groups interested in bringing junior hockey to Cranbrook has now closed and that officials are doing due dilligence to ensure the right long-term fit for the community.
The release was issued after a local ownership group went public with their experiences trying to bring junior hockey from the Alberta Junior Hockey League and the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
According to the prospective group, which was headed up by Colin Sinclair and Kevin Epp, the city denied an offer to sublease the existing lease agreement with the Kootenay [Winnipeg] Ice in order to facilitate a junior hockey franchise under either the AJHL or the KIJHL. The Ice, which had played out of Cranbrook in the Western Hockey League for the last 21 years, recently relocated to Manitoba.
However, the city denied that it had not turned down any offers to bring a junior hockey team to Cranbrook.
In the statement, the city says the prospective ownership group was not able to provide all the details around their proposal that was needed in order to set up a team in Western Financial Place. Additionally, city officials wanted a lease agreement longer than the current one that exists with the Ice, which expires in four years.
“The City is carefully conducting its due diligence to ensure a fair and inclusive process so that any hockey team locating in Cranbrook is successful and will remain a long-term tenant in Western Financial Place,” reads the statement. “Any successful hockey franchise will bring great entertainment for the hockey fans in the community, while also helping offset the operational costs of the facility.”
“The City must follow strict governance to acquire council approvals where land disposition is required, including lease of our arena spaces as per the Local Government Act and Community Charter.”
The city’s tender opened on May 30, 2019 and closed on June 5, 2019, and solicited expressions of interest from parties ‘looking for the opportunity to relocate or establish a hockey team in Cranbrook, B.C., at Western Financial Place.’
The tender included a questionnaire that asked for information such as a business description, management and operations, market research, marketing and community engagement strategies, hockey operations food and beverage options, and lease rates.
The release also said that the city is expecting a ‘significant announcement’ about the future of hockey and Western Financial Place in the coming weeks.