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Brampton Battalion To North Bay A Done Deal

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Brampton Battalion To North Bay A Done Deal November 6, 2012 7:35 AM

The Brampton Battalion are making the move. As TJHN reported last month, talks were progressing and a move looked to be in the works.

The Ontario Hockey League club announced Monday night it is planning to move to North Bay for the start of next season after the council in that city approved an agreement in principle which includes a $12-million arena upgrade and expansion.

The 15-year deal, subject to approval by the OHL board of governors, is contingent upon the sale of 2,000 season tickets for a minimum three-year period.

“Now is the time for the community to come out and support the relocation of the Battalion to North Bay,” Mayor Al McDonald said in a news release Monday night.

Rumors of the Battalion moving have been circulating for more than a year as the team has struggled to attract fans.

“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 story posted on the team’s website. “The city has a rich hockey history, and we hope to add to it. There’s a longstanding 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.”

The renovations will include expanding seating capacity to about 4,300, increasing the size of the ice surface to a more standard 200 by 85 feet, a large team dressing room/fitness area/administrative centre and new heating and cooling system.

Part of the funding will come from an interest-free loan from the Battalion, a $2.50 per ticket capital fee.

Changes are to include installation of an HVAC system; a reconfigured ice surface measuring 200 by 85 feet; a Battalion dressing-room complex incorporating two levels that will house a fitness room, study area and lounge; team administrative space; video boards above centre ice; new seats, including the addition of 570 seats in the south end and 180 rinkside seats; an expanded entrance between the existing access doors and the north end; 10 suites and a media box on the west side; and a club lounge and seating on the upper level at the north end.

“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,” said McDonald, who is expected to detail the season-ticket drive at a news conference on Thursday.

"The return of OHL hockey is good for the city of North Bay," said McDonald. "Being the home of the Battalion will not only contribute to the local economy but it presents the opportunity to put North Bay in the spotlight and enhance our image."

The question now for the City of North Bay is what will happen to the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey Leagues North Bay Skyhawks? With the OHL coming to North Bay, the city is not likely to support two teams within the same city or within 20 miles of each other.

The most likely destinations for the Skyhawks are Manitoulin Island, or Orangeville Ontario. Talks with both of those locations are likely to heat up next week according to on NOJHL source.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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