News broke this morning of the relationship between St. John's IceCaps management and True North carrying on past their original three-year agreement. It's no real surprise, the team has been doing well and attendance is at its max. Tickets are a little more expensive than in other AHL buildings, but it seems to have little to no effect as Mile One Centre is jammed every time the IceCaps take to the ice.
Barring any major surprises, St. John’s IceCaps CEO Danny Williams and True North Sports and Entertainment will soon sign off on a one-year extension on their existing three-year lease, and start negotiating for additional years keeping the American Hockey League team in St. John’s.
"It’s just a matter of both parties agreeing, and it just happens," Williams said of the contract extension. "I would be inclined to think that it’s a given.
When rumblings of an AHL club returning to the island began this past summer, it was speculated that Thunder Bay was also a location pushing hard to make its way into the league as soon as possible.
Williams addressed that as well.
“Thunder Bay was a competitive threat a while ago, but there’s no activity there now and even if there was, I don’t see a rink being ready in time,” Williams said.
“I’m very optimistic that certainly we will be going into the fourth year, and after that we’ll consider where we go from there.
“But I don’t think Winnipeg wants to move anywhere else. And we’re very happy with the relationship.”
I noticed this news resulted in some fan aggression over the social media, basically calling out "haters" or naysayers for complaining about ticket prices and questioning the viability of pro hockey back here in St. John's.
I couldn't be happier, personally, with the new arrival of the AHL and all that comes with it. This city is buzzing on the weekends when the Caps are in action, and I could see how some would become defensive over even a slight inkling that the team would be threatened. But let's not forget that this team is winning games, a lot of games.
The same fans that fill Mile One on a Tuesday night in midst of a winning streak (in the IceCaps' inaugural season, mind you) may find better things to do if the team slides to the middle of the pack or goes on to become a basement club in the next three years.
Selling out a building to hockey-starved fans is one thing, doing it for years in succession is obviously another.