This is exciting and welcomed news for the Sudbury Wolves, according to Wolves president Blaine Smith.
"We had an outstanding rivalry with the City of North Bay for many years," Smith said. "North Bay is a passionate northern hockey city with loyal hockey fans. It would be terrific to have North Bay back in the OHL and rekindle that unique northern rivalry with the great hockey fans in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie once again."
Al MacDonald, the mayor of North Bay, explained that attracting an OHL team back to North Bay is a priority for their community, to help enhance the city's image and provide economic benefits. Local hotels, restaurants, sports bars, gas stations, sporting good stores, signage companies and retailers are just some of the businesses that will benefit from OHL teams that travel from city to city. NHL scouts, player agents and league officials will also travel to North Bay each season, providing additional economic benefits.
The work on the arena is expected to increase seating capacity of the North Bay Memorial Gardens to at least 4,246, with an additional 140 standing-room locations creating a minimum capacity of 4,386. Changes are to include installation of an HVAC system; a reconfigured ice surface measuring 200 by 85 feet; a Battalion dressing-room complex incorporating two levels that will house a fitness room, study area and lounge; team administrative space; video boards above centre ice; new seats, including the addition of 570 seats in the south end and 180 rinkside seats; an expanded entrance between the existing access doors and the north end; 10 suites and a media box on the west side; and a club lounge and seating on the upper level at the north end.
Renovation costs are to be funded through a number of sources, including an interest-free loan from the Battalion and a $2.50 per ticket capital reserve fee. The city has agreed to move up its $3.9-million, 10-year capital plan for the facility and seek $2 million in funding from other levels of government. The remaining funding is to be raised through capital reserve fees on other events held at Memorial Gardens.
Under the terms of the agreement, the City of North Bay will have the balance of the current season to sign-up 2,000 season ticket holders in order to meet the terms of the agreement struck by the City of North Bay and the owner of the Brampton Battalion, Mr. Scott Abbott.
"Two thousand season tickets is an aggressive number," Smith said. "We have a little over 2,000 season tickets here in Sudbury with more than half purchased by local businesses. Individual hockey fans will really have to step-up in North Bay and demonstrate that they are willing to support their local OHL team.
"I believe that the hockey fans of North Bay will make it happen, just as hockey fans in Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury have made it happen for the past 40 years."