If you build it, they will come
The City of Thunder Bay remains hopeful that an AHL or OHL team could call the city’s new event centre home.
City manager Tim Commisso said Wednesday there was “absolutely” interest from various groups over bringing a team in one of those leagues to Thunder Bay.
“Those that are interested will take our report and see what we’re doing,” he said. “I believe firmly that there will be multiple interests in being a partner in this facility.”
Commisso is going to brief council Monday night during a closed session on private-sector interest in the facility, including that regarding Thunder Bay-based AHL or OHL teams.
Another potential anchor tenant is Lakehead University. The bulk of dates would be used by the men’s hockey team, but the institution could use the facility for other sports, such as basketball, or convocation ceremonies.
An anchor tenant, the phase two feasibility study states, will take up about 40 dates at the event centre per year. The report also projects eight concerts, eight family shows, 10 other sporting events, five “other entertainment” events, and 21 trade shows or day rentals.
Commisso, however, hinted that two anchor tenants may be a possibility.
“My understanding is there are discussions going on about that very potential,” he said.
Mayor Keith Hobbs also acknowledged the interest regarding bringing an AHL or OHL franchise to Thunder Bay. However, he was not willing to get into specifics on Wednesday.
“We have interest from several groups, actually,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting.
“They love Thunder Bay, they love what’s happening in Thunder Bay, and you can see the growth.”
Anthony LeBlanc of Ice Edge Holdings, a company that’s been working to bring a high-level team to Thunder Bay for some time, confirmed Wednesday those efforts are still ongoing. He also declined to go into specifics, but said Ice Edge has had meetings with the AHL, ECHL, and OHL.
LeBlanc has said that a major obstacle was uncertainty regarding the future of Thunder Bay’s event centre, and if that goes ahead, Ice Edge would be ready with an anchor tenant in the form of a hockey team.