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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
Kootenay-Columbia MP pans federal budget

Conservative Rob Morrison says budget doesn’t have a plan for long-term spending priorities

The IIO is investigating after a police dog bit a man during a traffic stop near Ladysmith on April 17, 2021. (Black Press Media stock photo)
Man arrested in incident at Canada-U.S. border near Roosville

A man who crossed the border illegally was apprehended by U.S. officials

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

The golf course in Elkford would need to be re-zoned to allow for 10 camping sites. (Image courtesy of District of Elkford)
Elkford to consider allowing campsites at golf course

The district has expressed support for 10 campground spaces at the golf course

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read