'Can you tell I am excited?' Hamilton Bulldogs moving to Brantford
City of Brantford councillor Richard Carpenter asked representatives from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) if they could tell he was excited while wearing a hockey jersey in council chambers Tuesday night.
“Can you tell I am excited?" he asked the chambers as a debate about the move of the Hamilton Bulldogs to Brantford got underway.
Carpenter, along with the rest of Brantford city council, voted unanimously to temporarily move the Hamilton Bulldogs to a new location and rename them the Brantford Bulldogs.
The relocation will be for a minimum of three years while the First Ontario Centre in Hamilton undergoes major renovations.
Council heard a presentation from city staff who recommended the move.
"We have a once in a generation opportunity to show not only the hockey world, but those doubters out there in the rest of the province and the country, that we are a city of winners," said Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis.
Three members of the Bulldogs organization, franchise owner Michael Andlauer, general manager Matt Turek and vice-president of business operations Jeff Elia were all present to answer questions.
"This city is much different than it was 40 years ago and I truly believe that the OHL belongs in Brantford," said Andlauer. "You have teamed up with the right team, the right ownership, and the right passion."
The agreement states the Bulldogs will be in Brantford for at least three years with the potential of three additional one-year extensions which can be added on.
“When I put this out to my constitutes, there wasn’t a negative comment to find,” Carpenter added. "I've never had such a response at any time in my life, quite frankly – positve or negative."
Many councillors spoke about their excitement, and readiness to attend games.
UPGRADES NEEDED IN BRANTFORD
The Brantford Civic Centre, built in 1967, will be the team's new home and will need some upgrades in order to "meet fan, players and OHL standards."
An estimated cost for those upgrades is $7.5 million.
The Bulldogs will cover $4.5 million for general arena upgrades ranging from a new scoreboard, new dasher board glass, new lighting, as well as upgraded washrooms and concessions.
The City of Brantford will cover the remaining $3 million for the upgrades, which will cover most of a new HVAC system, something the city says required an upgrade anyways. Staff stated the current system is running on electric radiant heat.
City Staff will pay the $3 million price tag with funds from the "casino legacy reserve,” which is made up of revenue Elements Casino shares with the municipality, meaning no taxpayer money will be used under the agreement with the Bulldogs.
A staff report presented to council also stated that nearly $4.5 million could be pumped into the local economy annually thanks to players and fans who would be staying at hotels, eating at restaurants and generally spending money in the city.
Staff also claim several local jobs would be created, with annual totalling wages of nearly $300,000 spread acorss the created positions.
These jobs will include, but may not be limited to, concession operators and Zamboni drivers.
"I will do everything in my power, if it's not this franchise, that an OHL team is here," said Andlauer. "Perhaps a new facility that's not here today, but hopefully we get to that crossroad and then you'll have your answer."
The financial rewards for the community would go above and beyond business to include charity, as well as the Bulldogs Foundation would begin supporting Brantford social programs.
“We raised over $900,000 last year, which was our largest raised so far,” Andlauer said about the foundation.
Adding a comment about their current contribution in Hamilton, “our signature program is the breakfast program where we feed 21 inner-city schools.”
Season ticket deposits will be accepted as quickly as Wednesday when the organization says the Brantford Bulldogs website will be live.
“We are expecting a lot of demand when we go on sale tomorrow. The initial process will be an online deposit and a form that you have to fill out online,” Elia said.
A $100 deposit will be needed when signing up online. People selected for season tickets will then be able to choose their seats through an online map in the coming weeks.
When one councillor asked how the team will ration season tickets given excitement seems high, the franchise stated they will still have several seats available for single sale allowing the greater community to access games as well.
Andlauer stated ticket prices will be around equal market value to other OHL franchises but was unable to provide a specific number.
Hamilton Bulldogs single-game tickets during the regular season currently range from $15 to $28.
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