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

OUR VIEW: Surrey’s public hearings are for being heard

Surrey public hearings of late have been devolving into something less than intended

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

Friends and family of Paul Prestbakmo (from left: Barbara Calder, Leah Charles, Jimmy Slater, Angela Prestbakmo and Liz Prestbakmo) gather outside Surrey Provincial Court on Tuesday (Jan. 26, 2021). (Tracy Holmes photo)
South Surrey murder victim stabbed 42 times: pathologist

RCMP digital-evidence specialist also among witnesses

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

In this undated image made from a video taken by the Duke of Sussex and posted on @SaveChildrenUK by the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shows the Duchess of Sussex reading the book “Duck! Rabbit!” to their son Archie who celebrates his first birthday on Wednesday May 6, 2020. The Canadian Paediatric Society is reminding families that the process of raising a reader starts from birth. (Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK)
Canadian Paediatric Society says raising a reader starts from birth

CPS says literacy is one of the strongest predictors of lifelong health outcomes

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Easing rules for parental benefits created inequities among parents, documents say

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office says the government will make any necessary changes

People walk along a pedestrianized zone of Sainte-Catherine street in Montreal, Monday, May 18, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Newly released statistics point to a major drop in police-recorded crime during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Crime down in first 8 months of pandemic, but mental health calls rise: StatCan

The agency says violent crimes such as assault dropped significantly

Cowichan Tribes chief Squtxulenhuw (William Seymour) confirmed the first death in the First Nations community from COVID-19. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes confirms 1st death amid growing COVID-19 outbreak

Shelter-in-place order has been extended to Feb. 5

(Pixabay)
B.C. teacher gets 1 day suspension after ‘aggressively’ throwing dumbbell at student

Documents show the weight would have hit the student if they didn’t catch it

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Most Read