City ponders purchase of NHL teamUp to $299 million would need to be borrowed to bring players and rink to downtown core
Northern News Services
Friday, April 1, 2016
The City of Yellowknife may borrow up to $299 million to support the purchase of an NHL team that would take up residence in the city's downtown core, according to an unconfirmed memo leaked to Yellowknifer this week.
The Arizona Coyotes won't have any problems finding ice (and hopefully fans) if city council accepts a proposal to borrow up to $299 million to bring the team to Yellowknife. - Michael Wifall photo courtesy wikimedia commons
The stunning proposal calls on city council to approve the purchase of several more downtown lots, including those occupied by Centre Square Mall and the Gold Range Hotel, to facilitate an unnamed private partner who intends to build an NHL-sized hockey arena and adjacent shopping centre between 49 and 51 Street on Franklin Avenue.
"This is a major investment on the city's part," the memo reads. "But given the need for economic rejuvenation in the Central Business District, a public-private redevelopment and relocation of an NHL team to the city represents a significant opportunity to spark growth and diversify the city's economic potential, especially in attracting tourism from Alberta where hockey fans are eager for a winning team to support."
The memo goes on to state that significant growth in parking meter revenue over the past year will help fund the city's portion of the purchase agreement, along with the sale of tiny home lots near Robertson Headframe once the historic landmark has been demolished.
The memo does not say which NHL team is being considered for relocation but entirely unsubstantiated speculation suggests the struggling Arizona Coyotes is the most likely candidate. The Pacific Division team, which relocated to Phoenix, Ariz., from Winnipeg in 1996, is currently sitting 12 points outside of a wild card playoff spot with six games left in the season.
Yellowknifer was unable to speak to an official spokesperson with the city for this story but Eric Eurtnu, whose sister once held a summer landscaping job with the city, said he is excited about the prospect of a professional hockey team coming to Yellowknife.
He said an NHL rink would be the perfect addition to the vacant, city-owned 50/50 lot, while the Gold Range bar ought to be incorporated as a vendor of beer for hockey games and two-stepping during intermissions.
"Those NHLers won't have to worry about getting their sidewalks shovelled or getting a jump-start for their vehicles, I can tell you that right now," said Eurtnu, adding he thought a great new team name would be the "Arctic Auroras."
A poorly deciphered response from Arizona Coyotes management, meanwhile, stated it was having difficulty pinpointing where Yellowknife is on a map while also questioning how the team would cope moving to the subarctic North from the desert.
"It would be quite the adjustment," the statement read. "So right now, only an April Fool would believe this is going to happen."