The Fraser Valley Bandits have not yet secured a deal to return to the Abbotsford Centre in 2022.
Bandits vice-president Dylan Kular stated that the transition of the building’s management team from Spectra to Canucks Sports and Entertainment has led to delays in securing an agreement.
He told The News that in previous years a deal had been put in place by this time of the year. Kular said the Bandits and Spectra have done one-year deals every year since the team arrived in 2019, but the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) was hoping to secure longer tenancy agreements with venues in the league’s stronger markets this year.
Abbotsford is considered one of the stronger markets in the league, ranking near the top in attendance.
“This year was going to be the year that we were going to look into a longer deal with the city of Abbotsford and Spectra,” he said. “But the delay has been because of the transition from Spectra to the Canucks. So we will still have our meetings and hopefully we can come to a point where we can still be in Abbotsford, but like any good business we have to evaluate our other options and make the best decision for everyone involved. We will see what happens.”
Kular said he understands that the Canucks are likely occupied doing a number of other things prior to the American Hockey League team’s launch in October, including hiring people for positions to explore possible tenants for the Abbotsford Centre.
The Canucks officially take control of the building on Jan. 1, 2022, but are working alongside current manager Spectra Venue Management to ensure a smoother transition.
The CEBL was originally launched with the league itself running the six teams, but news this week has seen the expansion Scarborough Shooting Stars franchise name Niko Carino and Sam Ibrahim as the owners of that team.
Carino is one of the founding members of OVO (October’s Very Own) – the lifestyle brand of rapper Drake.
— CEBL (@CEBLeague) August 16, 2021
It opens up the possibility that the league could allow private owners to take over teams, meaning the Canucks could potentially own and operate the team if a deal could be worked out.
“They (CEBL) are always looking for strong franchise owners and would the Canucks be one of those candidates? No doubt – they are a world-class organization,” Kular said.
He added that his hope is to remain in Abbotsford.
“All of our intentions are to be here in Abbotsford next year,” he said.
He declined to share when the next meeting with the Canucks will occur.
Kular also hinted that the Bandits Athletic Centre, which has been located at West Oaks Mall since earlier this year, is likely to find a new home.
“That was also a one-year lease so we will be going until January with that facility,” he said. “We’ve already explored other opportunities and found some in Abbotsford. We hope to continue to provide the community what we’ve been providing them with for the last year.”
The Bandits AC is a multi-sport facility that is open to adult and youth sport groups for basketball, fitness, baseball, softball and volleyball.
The News reached out to representatives from the Canucks, but have not received a reply.
One possible landing spot for the team could be the Langley Events Centre. Sources told The News the Bandits may end up in Langley.
The LEC is the home of the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants, the B.C. high school provincial basketball championships, the Trinity Western University Spartans basketball, volleyball and hockey teams and the Langley Thunder lacrosse program.
The arena seats 5,276 for sports and is also the home of the Basketball BC office.
The Bandits and Basketball BC are partnering to hold the Summer Slam 3×3 youth basketball tournament at LEC on Sept. 4 and 5. The Bandits also participated in a Rotary Lottery 50/50 Mega Draw in Langley earlier this month.