BELLEVILLE, ON – The process of bringing hockey back to a starved market, is almost complete.
In just a few short months, the Belleville Senators will open play in the newly renovated Yardmen Arena, which had not seen professional hockey played there since 2015.
The move of the franchise from Binghamton to Belleville continued the string of AHL franchise purchases by NHL clubs, in an effort to move the two teams closer together, and put a greater onus on player development. The Ottawa Senators announced their move in September.
Belleville Senators Vice President Roger Lajoie told The Sin Bin he feels the community has been great in supporting this new era of hockey in the city of Belleville.
“We’re excited to be apart of things here in Belleville, the American Hockey League is the second best league in the world” Belleville Senators Vice President Roger Lajoie told The Sin Bin. “The city of Belleville, Bay of Quincy region has a lot of great hockey fans and unfortunately, lost their OHL team. while that was a very unfortunate thing for them, in the long run it worked out pretty well because they are going to see a better level of hockey than they ever seen before.”
A rivalry could build as they will have the Toronto Marlies as well as the Laval Rocket very close by. There is no question that there are a lot Maple Leafs and Canadiens fans in Belleville’s neck of the woods.
“We certainly are looking forward to seeing them come down and enjoying the games as well,” Lajoie said. “There is no doubt the American Hockey League is regional league and its all about rivalries and conditional rivalries so to be able to have the Marlies in here on a regular basis and the Laval Rocket on a regular basis and of course the fans of their NHL affiliate teams is gonna mean for our terrific atmosphere and a great rivalry.”
“I don’t think there is any question it’s nice especially with Laval, of course, because they kind of are our expansion cousins. We’re not expansion teams but we’re relocated teams and we’re starting in the same year so we got a great rivalry there with the Sens and the Habs and the Sens and the Leafs with the Marlies coming to town is also great. We say bring it on. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Great rivalries make for great hockey,” Lajoie continued.
Since the announcement of the Senators coming to town, more than 18 million dollars has gone toward a renovation of Yardmen Arena, which is expected to be completed later this year. What fans can expect is an arena that will now have 4,500 seats plus standing room, suite-seating as well as a fan deck area. In addition, renovations were also made to the adjoining Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre which includes Belleville’s three additional community ice pads. You can see photos of the renovation, here: http://www.quintenews.com/2017/07/photos-sens-new-home-taking-shape/151458/
In a day and age where the word ‘fit’ is commonly used among athletes and teams, the pieces to this move all “fit” in the right spots for everyone.
“It’s a better fit for us and we can’t be any happier then it all worked it out the way it did. But the relationship between the B-Sens and the Sens is even stronger because now there is the same owner and the same management team will be coming from Bingo (Binghamton) so we’re very pleased about that.” Lajoie said.
The eight-year relationship between the City of Belleville and the Senators gets going in earnest in early October.