The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)

Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

The City of Abbotsford and Aquilini Investment Group (AIG) have agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run Abbotsford Centre, according to details posted online on Thursday (May 6).

The “notice of intent to award a contract” was posted on the BC Bid website, and indicates that the city will pay AIG an annual management fee of $750,000 to manage the centre, which will be the new home of the Canucks’ affiliate American Hockey League team.

The effective date of the proposed contract is Jan. 1, 2022.

AIG is controlled by Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini, along with his brothers and father. They oversee several other subsidiaries including: Rogers Arena, Aquilini Developments, Aquilini Properties, Golden Eagle Group and Aquilini Renewable Energy.

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The contract states that the management fee includes all operating costs but the city is responsible for capital maintenance and repair. The contract further includes “revenue-sharing opportunities” for the city based on the number and type of event tickets sold.

If the contract is finalized, AIG will run all activities at the centre, including sports events, trade shows, and cultural and entertainment events.

The notice states that the city approached AIG about an agreement for the management of Abbotsford Centre “given its unique experience and ability to leverage operational synergies within the Canucks Sports and Entertainment franchise” and its plan to move the AHL team there for at least the 2021-22 season.

The notice states that, without the team moving to Abbotsford Centre, the city’s ability to pay the management fee “would not be viable.”

The contract can be seen here.

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Abbotsford Centre is currently managed by Spectra Venue Management.

The City of Abbotsford’s previous deal with the Abbotsford Heat – the AHL’s affiliate franchise for the Calgary Flames – ended in 2014, five years into its 10-year supply fee agreement.

The city paid $5.5 million to the Flames to terminate the agreement, which had guaranteed the Heat a break-even annual budget of $5.7 million.

Over the first four years of the deal, local taxpayers paid $5.24 million to cover financial shortfalls.

Losses totalling $11 million were estimated for the final five years of the contract.

Part of the Heat’s struggle to draw fans in Abbotsford was the fact that the Flames are a division rival of the Vancouver Canucks.

A City of Abbotsford spokesperson said they will not be making any comment until the deal is finalized.

RELATED: AHL approves Canucks’ franchise relocation to Abbotsford

More to come …

With files from: Vikki Hopes, Abbotsford News

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