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2012-09-27 at 15:25

McCullough reaffirms city needs new arena before acquiring AHL franchise

By Jeff Labine,
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Keith McCullough has reaffirmed he and his partners can’t move forward on bringing an American Hockey League team to Thunder Bay until the city builds a new arena.

McCullough, a principal in Ice Edge Holdings, was in Thunder Bay this week to speak at a conference at Valhalla Inn and on Wednesday said the group won’t attempt to purchase an AHL franchise until that time.

“AHL franchises are for sale but the question is do you have a building to put the franchise in, and do you have a NHL partner that makes sense to vertically align yourself with,” McCullough said. “I think with population growth rising and the kind of economic development we’re going to see, it’s a perfect time to get that kind of hockey product in Thunder Bay. Next to pulling rocks out of the ground, the next big thing we manufacture in this city is hockey players.”

City council on Oct. 10 will receive a report on the location of a proposed event centre, estimated to cost between $80 million and $100 million.

The two most popular locations being considered are downtown Port Arthur and Innova Park.

McCullough said Thunder Bay is on the right track and praised how city manager Tim Commisso has handled the situation so far.
He said he’s quite confident Thunder Bay can support an AHL team and went on to say there’s enough excitement in the city to host training camps and other events to attract that kind of product to the North.

“If we could get the franchise aligned with Winnipeg or Minnesota or something nearby, now you have an even bigger opportunity and base perspective because now you can get those pro players in transition,” he said.

He and business partner Anthony LeBlanc had expressed interest buying the Phoenix Coyotes a few years ago, and were recently linked to Greg Jamison’s bid to buy the struggling team.

However McCullough said he’s not personally interested in Phoenix at the moment.


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Tiredofit says:
Why is it these millionaires want us to build an arena so they can fulfill some personal fantasy to own a hockey team? You want it? Well as they say Mr Ice Edge, build it and they will come. Get your fellow millionaire buddies to chip in and build it, you can reap the so called profits from it. I for one am tired of my taxes funding all these personal pet projects that don't provide a positive return. Or doesn't take over a 100 years to get a return on our investments (waterfront is a good example)
9/27/2012 4:58:52 PM
sky high says:
Well look at all the negative people out tonight. Did the Fort Willian Gardens not pay nice dividends for the city of Thunder Bay for quite a while now? But you see, it is over, the Gardens need to be replaced. Why can't you fools see this? Whether we get a 100 floods or not, the Gardens need to be replaced. As for the person below who mentioned the Twins, does he realize that they folded decades ago? Let's get this multiplex built and if the whiners don't want to celebrate with us then they can just sit and shrivel away in their self-imposed misery. 30 years from now, if we need a new ball diamond, some fool is going to say 'Wait there was a flood in 2012 we can't have a new ball diamond"
9/27/2012 10:27:39 PM
jonthunder says:
Sounds like his real agenda as a speaker was not minerals development, but an arean subsidy for a hockey team. These arenas for pro teams are usually a lost for a city, and the team owners are in a win/win. The last thing we need here is a minor league hockey team, life has changed with the internet and other broadcasting, why settle for fourth best in entertainment.
9/27/2012 5:04:20 PM
CM Punk says:
Oh my God! Here we go again.
Both LeBlanc and McCullough are in the news once again about bringing an AHL team here.
Thought we were done with them and this issue already.
These two stiffs need to stick their heads in the sand and keep them there.
With all that has happened over the past while such as the flooding earlier this year, more and more charities are asking for monies from already tax burdened residents.
This new arena idea should not even be open for discussion.
We have city mismanagement issues, class action lawsuit, massive future spending on city infrastructure and not to mention the debt the city has.
Taxes and water rates continue to rise as wages continue to stagnate.
We do need an arena, that goes without saying but its not in the cards.
Get real.
If I was these two clowns I would be ashamed telling people I am gonna bring this team here or that team.
We were a great hockey town with the Twins but that has come to a pass now.
Move onto more important matters please.
9/27/2012 5:13:37 PM
wtfo says:
This is the last thing this city needs to spend money on at this time. like the Mayor said back in June, city infrastructure should be priority number one!
9/27/2012 7:17:31 PM
chezhank says:
Use the Marina Ice Rink!
9/27/2012 8:26:49 PM
today says:
AHL-OHL teams draw 2% of the local population base, exceptional teams 3%, maybe Thunder Bay will be exceptional. LU TWolves, being a successful program has settled within these parameters, and it's been a constant top team for over ten years. I wonder what their attendance would be like if they fell to become a bottom place team.
We presently have the venue to support these AHL-OHLteams. Bring in the team, when they have consistent sellouts for 5 years, then consider expanding.
There are always teams for sale. When our population hits 200,000, then I would say go for it, a 6,000 seat arena could then be justified.
But what do I know. The "Master" has had his "Master Plan" in motion for sometime now and everyone knows what the final outcome will be... very soon...when he lays his final card on the table.
It's not about 'what' is being done, but 'how' it's being done, without full disclosure to the taxpayer, there are a few words in the dictionary that can discribe this process
9/27/2012 8:53:01 PM
collie says:
How many hockey teams have been here in Thunder Bay in the last 30 years??? How many are still here???? Why do we need a Hockey Team now??? We have the University Hockey Team and that is good enough for the size of this city. I can see helping the University build an Arena on University Property and the University paying the larger portion. BUT no way Taxpayers footing the bill for someone else!!!!!!
9/27/2012 9:17:36 PM
Pandora says:
I think Mr McCollough should come back with some investors, some serious investors. Investors who want to invest in the building of this Arena. I don't think this arena should be built by tax payers alone. Mr McCollough bring us some of your investors.

In Minneapolis they have lotteries, now that makes sense.
9/27/2012 9:25:10 PM
deluxecustom says:
These 2 clowns need to take their pipe dreams some where else. Have they looked around Thunder Bay lately? Or read the news recently?
Thunder Bay is a cesspool of crime with packs of nomads roaming the streets like rabid dogs looking for their next meal. AHL..Ha, Anyone with even an ounce of intelligence would know that this will never happen. You cannot walk anywhere in Thunder Bay without fear of being assaulted or worse!!The Police force are an ineffective deterent that fear a lawsuit everytime they attempt to execute their job.
Reality check time. Time to focus on more important issues..It will only get worse before it gets better..Working at 7 11 in Thunder Bay now ranks fourth on the most dangerous jobs list behind crab fishing!!
I will submit a team name though..
"Thunder Bay Oxys"

9/27/2012 9:48:45 PM
jh says:
I am sad to live in the same city as as all you naysayers. I'm also sad to live in a city doesn't have a convention or events centre. Can't us young taxpayers have something to enjoy in our city that will bring economic prosperity to our city? I usually don't read these comments... I will go back to leaving you to complain.
9/27/2012 10:02:56 PM
commonsense says:
We certainly have far more important needs at this than a new arena.

Our TBayTel dividends need to go to our "real infrastructure"- our roads, bridges and especially sewer systems. The "100 year flood" which happened previously in 2008, shows we need to be upgrading our infrastructure, separating storm water from the sanitary sewers.

Let's take care of the things we already have - parks, community centres, Chippewa, Boulevard, and especially the conservatory. How does Rebecca Johnson begrudging spending money on the conservatory, feel about a $100M multi-plex, I wonder?

Go on-line and read up on the Abbotsford Arena and Entertainment Centre. The City, desperate for an anchor tenant, guarantees revenue to the Abbotsford Heat hockey team, a move Maclean’s magazine called the “dumbest” political move, again, in the whole country.

If there are teams available what does that tell us? Teams move on to the next city to give them the best deal. No thanks!
9/27/2012 11:31:44 PM
ogopogo7bc says:
I find it very interesting that there is not an option to "disagree" with the above comments - only a link to "agree". Not everything in the city makes money and ultimately that is why we pay taxes - to enjoy the city we live in. The fact that we are a large city with a great history of hockey players and we don't have a team is ridiculous. Perhaps the arena could be built as a public/private partnership as has been done in other cities. All I know is I would love to support an arena and an AHL/OHL hockey team here. Sign me up for season tickets today!!!
9/28/2012 8:17:31 AM
deluxecustom says:
Will you be so quick to sign up for tax increases as well?
I think not..
9/28/2012 12:43:31 PM
lonewolf9 says:
The only reason Wolves hockey works is that they play so few home games (20) and its a fairly affordable ticket for most fans. New arena or not, I don't see any pro team drawing 4,000-5,000 fans per game with 35-40 regular season games and the tickets at double the price of LU hockey. Thunder Bay has a history of not supporting its teams unless its playoff time.
9/29/2012 11:11:53 AM
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