It appears the Alberta Junior Hockey League might be on its way to Blackfalds.
On June 25, Council voted unanimously to move forward with the multi-plex expansion project which includes a new ice surface and Wednesday – they announced expansion would start in 2020.
Part of the request for a decision from the Town of Blackfalds regular council meeting on June 25 contained veiled details about the possibility of Junior A hockey coming to town –if the new facility was ready in two years time.
“An owner, whom Administration has been working with over the past number of months, is well situated to finalize acquisition of a team for relocation to Blackfalds,” read the report from Town of Blackfalds CAO Myron Thompson.
“Process for purchasing of the team is in the final stages and discussions have taken place with the league seeking a 2-year hiatus for the team that will be brought here anticipating that the arena complex would be available.”
According to the report, the current ownership of the unknown franchise has no desire to play out of the current Blackfalds Multi-Plex.
It would not be the team owners desire to play out of the existing arena in the short term as there would not be sufficient seating and would result in poor financial situation,” the report read.
“They also desire to have a new team introduced into a new and exciting facility and build off that excitement in the new era of hockey in the Community.”
When reached for comment, the AJHL statement said no formal process had been run by them, in accordance with league bylaws.
“The AJHL has not formally received a Change of Ownership Request or a Relocation Request in accordance with our Bylaws from any member team. Until this happens, there is nothing for our League to act on,” the email statement read.
The report would run in line with what was reported when the Blackfalds Wranglers, who play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League agreed to move to Sylvan Lake.
That move was approved in early June by the HJHL Board of Directors and could happen as early as next season.
Wranglers GM Kurt Spady confirmed the reason for the move to Sylvan Lake News on June 7 was the result of a Junior A team potentially coming to Blackfalds. It would also bring the Junior B Provincials to Sylvan Lake in the Spring of 2020.
For what it’s worth, a few AJHL teams have had financial woes over the past several years.
The Calgary Mustangs for example, amid struggling attendance and a failed bid to move, were granted a leave of absence from play in 2019-20. In 2017-18, according to hockeydb.com, its average attendance was 151.
Another Calgary based AJHL franchise, the Canucks, needed to fundraise $100,000 in a few days in 2018 to stay afloat.
In 2016-17, it was a similar situation in Olds. The Grizzlys had been struggling until a new ownership group crowdfunded half a million dollars of private money to purchase the team and save it.
As it currently stands, there doesn’t look to be any hockey in the immediate future in Blackfalds.