The trend of NHL buying teams and moving them closer to their home cities is continuing. This morning, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and representatives of the City of Belleville announced the Binghamton Senators will move to Belleville, beginning with the 2017-18 season and will stay there for at least eight seasons.
In order to properly accommodate a new professional AHL team, the City of Belleville will immediately undertake more than $18.5 million in important renovations to modernize Belleville’s Yardmen Arena and prepare it for professional hockey for the first time in the city’s history. It is expected the team will start in Belleville, with the renovations expected to be completed late next year. The renovations will also help bring the Yardmen Arena to an equivalent standard as the adjoining Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre which includes Belleville’s three additional community ice pads.
“Hockey is back in Belleville. The people of Belleville are a deeply passionate and proud hockey community,” Melnyk said. “This community has truly earned the return of hockey and I am committed to making the Belleville Senators an integral part of the city.”
Belleville last had hockey at the Yardmen Arena when the Ontario Hockey League’s Belleville Bulls played there from 1981 to 2015.
The organization also announced the launch of a major ticket drive which will see fans access season seats on a first come, first serve basis, as well as a new website and social media apparatus.
Belleville Senators website: www.bellevillesens.com
Belleville Senators on Twitter: @bellevillesen
The Belleville Senators on Facebook: www.facebook.com/bellevillesens
In a statement on behalf of Binghamton Senators ownership, team Executive Vice President Tom Mitchell said the following:
“We have had a tremendous relationship with the Ottawa Senators organization for the better part of 15 years, including a Calder Cup Championship in 2011. Their decision to relocate has no impact on the future of the AHL’s presence in the Southern Tier. Our organization is taking a proactive approach to ensure this as we move forward, and at the appropriate time we will be happy to share more details with the entire community. We will continue to focus on the 2016-17 season of Binghamton Senators hockey beginning with Opening Night on Saturday, October 15.”
Mitchell said in a video released on the Binghamton Senators twitter feed, the organization is working to extend their arena lease with the county through 2020-21 and said there’s a lot of moving parts.
“I just want our fans to know that we aren’t going anywhere. When the dust settles, they are going to be very happy, it’s just going to take a little bit of time.”
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