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St. John’s works to bring back AHL hockey

The management of Mile One Centre in St. John’s wants to bring back AHL hockey and is using a unique round-robin tourney with three teams to generate interest.
It’s amazing how much you miss something you took for granted — as the management of Mile One Centre is finding out, as for the first time in 20 years there won’t be AHL or QMJL hockey in St. John’s.

The game plan — a unique one, to be sure — is to generate local interest in AHL hockey through the hosting of the Hamilton Bulldogs training camp and a three-team round-robin tourney featuring the Bulldogs, Toronto Marlies and Manitoba Moose. Dubbed the "Iceberg Cup," the tournament features the team’s former AHL team — the Marlies were the St. John’s Maple Leafs — and the Mile One Centre marketing staff used the return of the Marlies as an excuse to market the event in the community.

If hockey to return, it sounds like arena officials will be smarter about a lease that makes sense for both sides. The former St. John’s Fog Devils suffered under a lease calling for $10,000 a game, overhead that crippled the operation and made the decision to move easier. While there’s no AHL team on the verge of moving right now, there may be a few franchises available in the next few years.

Adding an AHL team could push Mile One Centre into profitability. Technically, the arean turned a profit of $110,000 in 2007, but that came after a $250,000 subsidy from the city. More events have been scheduled at the multuse arena for 2008 and 2009, and adding minor-league hockey to the mix could reduce or eliminate that subsidy.

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