Questions are surrounding the future of hockey’s Stockton Heat (AHL), as neither the team nor city has clarified the club’s status beyond the 2019-20 season.
The Heat have played at Stockton Arena since the start of the 2015-16 season, after relocating from Glens Falls, NY during the great AHL westward march. That marked the beginning of a five-year agreement with the city, which includes an option for an additional five-years that can be exercised by the team.
Under the terms of that deal, the Heat had to inform Stockton officials before the 2019-20 AHL season of whether it intended to exercise that option. Reportedly the team gave notice as obligated, but has not clarified publicly whether it exercised the option to remain in Stockton or if it is exploring alternate plans. More from The Record:
When the Heat came to town in 2015, they agreed to a five-year contract with the city, with a five-year option belonging to the team. According to Heat CEO Brian Petrovek, the franchise must inform city officials whether the option is being enacted before the start of the last season on the original contract.
That was Oct. 4. Petrovek has declined to be interviewed on the subject by The Record, but in comments forwarded by the Heat on Friday said “the team has fulfilled its contractual obligation of giving notice.”
Connie Cochran, the City of Stockton’s spokeswoman, said that there was nothing to report, but the city is in communication with the Heat.
If the team made its decision, one way or another, it seems an answer should be forthcoming. One possibility is that the sides decided to extend the deadline and keep negotiating, which is not uncommon in these cases. The Heat has made it clear it wants some arena improvements.
The franchise arrived in Stockton after being relocated by NHL parent/team owner Calgary Flames, part of a larger trend that saw many western NHL organizations move their AHL clubs to the west coast in order to create a more favorable geographical situation. They replaced the ECHL’s Stockton Thunder, who called Stockton Arena home from 2005-2015.