On the heels of losing the Binghamton Senators, officials in Binghamton are expressing confidence that the city will soon attract another AHL team.
As we detailed on Monday, the Ottawa Senators have finalized a move of the Binghamton Senators to Belleville, ON, where they will play as the Belleville Senators. Luring the team north of the border was an $18.5 million renovation package to Yardmen Arena, which will be expanded to 4,600 seats and receive other upgrades, including new premium seating.
Yardmen Arena upgrades are not expected to be complete by the opening of the 2017-18 season. However, it does not appear that the Senators will wait in Binghamton until the renovations are finished, as the 2016-17 campaign is set to be the team’s last at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.
In the aftermath of this news, the Senators ownership group says that the AHL is going to remain in Binghamton. Without getting into specifics, Senators vice president and minority owner Tom Mitchell said that talks to bring another team to the city are well underway. More from the Press Sun & Bulletin:
“The American league is going nowhere, that’s a given,” Mitchell said. “More than talks; (hockey) is going to stay in Binghamton and I can’t say much more than that.
“When (Ottawa) first approached us with (their intentions) six months ago, or somewhere in that neighborhood, they said ‘we’re not going anywhere until someone commits to Binghamton’ and that happened pretty much immediately.”
Mitchell, who is hoping to be able to announce the franchise’s future beyond this upcoming season by the end of 2016, said the Ottawa Senators helped during the initial stage in the process of finding a new partner and the AHL has stated it is committed to remaining in Binghamton. He supports Ottawa’s decision to move their developmental team closer to home, saying it makes a lot of business sense and Ottawa’s commitment to Binghamton has been strong throughout the relationship.
The article goes on to note possible fits in Binghtamton, two of which–the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Albany Devils–were discussed here earlier this summer. Renovations to the Nassau County Coliseum may very well lure the Sound Tigers to Long Island, but the Devils could be in play for Binghamton.
Either way, a move to Binghamton will add to a period of continuing transition for the AHL. The league’s recent westward expansion has proven to be a success, while Belleville will join Laval, QC as the latest city to attract a relocating AHL franchise for the 2017-18 season.
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