Kootenay Ice President and General Manager Matt Cockell at his office desk in Cranbrook in 2017. Townsman file photo.

Kootenay Ice President and General Manager Matt Cockell at his office desk in Cranbrook in 2017. Townsman file photo.

City of Cranbrook files lawsuit against Winnipeg Ice, WHL

Cranbrook seeking compensation for breaking a lease agreement when the major-junior franchise relocated to Manitoba in 2019

The City of Cranbrook has filed a lawsuit against the Winnipeg Ice and the WHL seeking compensation for breaking a lease agreement when the major-junior franchise relocated to Manitoba following league approval in 2019.

The lawsuit, filed by the city on Dec. 24 in B.C. Supreme Court, seeks a few different types of financial relief stemming from lost income due to the relocation of the Kootenay Ice from Cranbrook to Winnipeg, a move which broke a license of occupation agreement with Western Financial Place that had four additional years left in the terms of the contract.

According to the lawsuit, the Ice provided an annual average of $178,333 over a five-year period to the City in fees, other revenue and advertising income. The city also says it incurred $15,167 in one-time expenses when the Ice relocated, due to having to prematurely restore condition of the premises.

Additionally, the city is also seeking replacement income that was lost between the Ice’s relocation and the announcement of a new tenant with the arrival of the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks, as well as pre-judgment interest on damages.

The lawsuit also takes aim at the WHL, alleging that the league induced the contract breaches, knowing that the city would lose revenue when the Board of Governors approved the franchise relocation.

The city declined to comment further on the lawsuit, until it is allowed to move through the courts.

The Townsman has reached out to the Winnipeg Ice and the WHL for comment.

The WHL legacy in Cranbrook

The Kootenay Ice arrived in Cranbrook in 1998, following a relocation from Edmonton.

Under the leadership of Ed Chynoweth and his son, Jeff, the franchise won three WHL championship titles along with a Memorial Cup in 2002.

Alumni include players such as Jarret Stoll, a longtime NHLer who two Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings, and Sam Reinhart, who was selected second overall in the NHL Draft and currently plays for the Buffalo Sabres.

In 2008, the club signed a 15-year license of occupation with the City of Cranbrook to play out of Western Financial Place, guaranteeing revenue to the city based off a scaling attendance threshold from $20,000 to $120,000 as well as a basic occupancy fee for each year of the term equal to two per cent of the Gross Game Receipts for each WHL season.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city also received all revenue generated from concessions stands and parking lot fees. Additionally, the agreement stipulated that the city receives 20 per cent of of net advertising income generated by the club and 100 per cent of the advertising revenue generated outside the premise, including the restaurant, swimming pool, commercial/retail space, common areas and arena naming rights.

After years of speculation regarding a franchise sale or relocation, the Kootenay Ice was purchased by Matt Cockell and Greg Fettes, a pair of Winnipeg investors, in 2017. The license of occupation agreement with the Kootenay Ice Hockey Club was assigned by the city to the new ownership group a few months after the club’s sale.

Following the sale, the club played two more WHL seasons in Western Financial Place before announcing the planned relocation midway through the second year.

At the time of the relocation announcement, WHL commissioner Ron Robison said the league had been assessing attendance at Western Financial Place dating back to 2011, when the arena failed to sell out during a league championship run.

During a press conference announcing the move, Robison stressed that it was a WHL decision to relocate the the franchise to Winnipeg.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Victoria police arrested a man Jan. 15 after he rammed his minivan into an occupied police vehicle. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested for ramming minivan into occupied police vehicle

Man caught after fleeing, crashing into cement retaining wall

Mayor Rob Martin and Costa Canna president Phil Floucault cut the ribbon on Colwood’s first cannabis retail store. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Cowichan Tribes’ Costa Canna cannabis store opens in Colwood

Cowichan Tribes has one-year deal to grow, sell cannabis

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Most Read