Vancouver Giants majority owner Ron Toigo says 60% of their season ticket holders are from south of the Fraser.
That was a factor in the team’s decision to move from Pacific Coliseum to the Langley Events Centre next season.
Toigo says losing their longstanding fans will hurt, but he’s hoping they’ll still make a trek out for some games.
“We don’t want to lose them. That was one of the hardest parts about this. The North Shore guys have been great supporters, the south side guys are ecstatic and the north side guys are not so crazy about it, but it’s not that bad of a drive.”
Toigo says any notion of moving for the sake of saving some dollars is false.
“Money is not the driving factor in this decision whatsoever, because this is all about the best environment for the Giants and developing our young guys into being the players they want to be.”
Toigo says the free parking and intimacy of a smaller arena will make crossing the tolled Port Mann Bridge worth the trip.
No subsidies or attendance guarantees
Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese says there are no subsidies or attendance guarantees in the agreement with the Giants.
Neighbouring Abbotsford paid out well over 12-million-dollars during the five year existence of the Abbotsford Heat because of guarantees and subsidies in the tenancy agreement, the team negotiated with the city-owned Abbotsford Entertainment Centre.
Froese makes it clear that’s not happening in his community.
“That’s one of the criteria that’s very important to our community, no guarantees and no subsidies.”
And, here’s more good news, for now, parking will be free.
“It’s not on the books.”
Calls for tickets flood phone lines
Phones at the Vancouver Giants office are ringing off the hook after the announcement this morning.
In fact, the phones are so busy, the Giants’ ticket office will stay open beyond regular business hours tonight.
Spokesperson Brendan Batchelor says many callers are asking about season tickets.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from those especially south of the Fraser to the relocation in Langley but ya it’s an exciting day and we’re seeing the calls to back that up as well.”
Batchelor says market research showed the game would be popular with people living south of the Fraser.
“We’ve had a lot of people saying they want to commit to season tickets already and of course our ticketing staff has been dealing with existing season ticket holders as well.”
One of the best Vancouver Giants players in team history says he’s sad to see the team pack up and leave the rink he called home for four years.
Jonathon Blum played four memorable years at the Pacific Coliseum and is in the Vancouver Giants’ Ring of Honour and was part of the team’s one and only Memorial Cup win in 2007.
That’s why he’s sad to see the Giants are leaving the Rink on Renfrew.
“We built something there, a winning traditional with Don Hay and it’s just frustrating to see them not doing well because I felt we laid the ground work for how hockey was going to be played in Vancouver for that junior team.”
Blum now plays in Russia but has his sights set on returning to the NHL and says he believes the Giants have the right people in place to make it a smooth transition to Langley.
With files from Matt Lee and Janet Brown.