Brampton Battalion move to North Bay will hurt local business

Powerade Centre in Brampton may be minus one tenant after OHL season as Battalion march north

The Boston Pizza on Regional Road sees the Brampton Battalion players in their restaurant frequently. “They do come here at least once or twice a week,” said service manager Scott Treadwell, who oversaw a player’s bachelor party last week. “Just because the guy was getting married I gave him an extra $50 coupon just to come back. They always come here, for sure.”

Businesses like Boston Pizza, hotels and the Powerade Centre are going to feel the loss of the Brampton Battalion if they get the go-ahead to relocate to North Bay for the next Ontario Hockey League season.

Yesterday, the City of North Bay approved an agreement-in-principal for a 15-year lease with the OHL team to play at the Memorial Gardens arena.

The deal includes a $12 million arena upgrade and expansion. However, it still requires approval by the OHL board of governors and sale of 2,000 season tickets for at least three years.

And while rumors of this move have been circulating for years, restaurants, hotels and the Powerade Centre on Kennedy Road in Brampton still expect to be heavily affected by the team’s move.

Treadwell said while business will still go on, staff will definitely miss them. “We do give them an in-store discount because they do bring us a lot of business,” he said. “It’s just like losing a regular.”

“And they tipped well,” added bartender Jennifer Snow.

A source said many area hotels benefitted from the Battalion season because rooms were booked by visiting players, their family members and sometimes talent scouts in town for evaluations. “Of course it’s going to impact us because the teams will not be coming back and playing, but they may be coming back and playing in other tournaments,” said the source, requesting anonymity.

“Anytime you have something that is a constant that’s removed, it will have an impact,” she said.

Powerade Centre general manager Mike Hardcastle said the facility opened with the expectation of 3,500-3,600 people per game and offshoot revenues through advertising, suite rentals and food and beverage sales. However, he said recent games had an average attendance of fewer than 2,000 people. The building’s spectator rink has a capacity of 4,980.

Hardcastle said the centre worked with the city to try and set aside extra funds to address some of the hockey club’s concerns and give them an added incentive for them to stay. “We were prepared to invest $250,000,” he said, “And then was a contingency fund of $100,00-$150,00.”

However, after the deadline for the 15-year contract’s renewal passed in August, Hardcastle and his team started preparing for a 2013-2014 events season without the Battalion’s regular, pre-season and frequent playoff games.

“The bottom line is we didn’t want them to leave,” he said. “They’re a business, they’re running a business and clearly less than 2,000 people are not going to pay the bills.”

The centre was built at a cost of $26.5 million specifically for the Battalion after Charles Scott Abbott purchased the OHL franchise in 1996.

Construction was completed in 1998 and the Powerade Centre became the home for the Battallion, as well as the Brampton Excelsiors, Peel Avengers and Brampton Inferno lacrosse teams. The building’s title contract with the Coca-Cola Company still has three years left.

For bringing the Battalion to the city and building the hockey club, Abbott was inducted into the Brampton Hall of Fame in 2005.

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