The Ottawa Senators have called a press conference for Monday at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre in Belleville, Ontario to announce they will be moving their AHL affiliate to Belleville for the 2017-18 season. This will be the second news conference of the day for this project, as the City of Belleville will hold one in the morning to announce the $20-million upgrade project to the Yardmen Arena that has been approved by city council.
The project will renovate every aspect of the arena in order to be compliant with the AHL’s standard for rinks. A blueprint was put out to the Quinte News on Friday night after the special city council meeting during the day. The arena has been without a tenant since the OHL’s Belleville Bulls were purchased and moved to Hamilton after the 2014-15 season.
This move has been talked about for a time this summer and really got legs with Senators assistant GM Randy Lee presented the AHL Board of Governors with the reasons why the move would benefit the team and league, citing close proximity to Ottawa, being in the Senators broadcast region, and fans willingness to support a team of this caliber.
While Belleville rejoices, the question is what will happen with Binghamton. By all accounts, the AHL will look to keep Binghamton in their fold, as it has been a steady and dedicated market for them. However, with no teams looking for a new location for their affiliation, the hands of the league and the city of Binghamton seem to be tied. However, in his piece linked above, Ottawa Citizen writer Bruce Garrioch said that the Senators are working with the AHL and other NHL teams to replace the B-Sens and keep the AHL in Binghamton.
How the dominoes will fall after this announcement is anyone’s guess, especially with the trend of teams wanting their affiliates closer being the prime reason for all this shuffling. With Binghamton being a ways away from teams that need an affiliate, it could prove harder for the AHL to help out that market than meets the eye.