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

West Shore RCMP arrested a 42-year-old man April 11 following numerous reports of someone firing a rifle in a Malahat campground. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP arrest man after shots fired at Malahat campground

Police received numerous reports of a man firing a rifle outside his camper trailer

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
Pacheedaht Nation says activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Pacheedaht is concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Driver who crashed into Uptown Walmart likely suffering mental health crisis, police say

Man in his early 20s drove through a parkade wall, no serious injuries reported

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. and Victoria’s overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Additional COVID-19 exposures have been reported at Arbutus Global Middle School and Mount Doug Secondary School. (Google Streetview)
Additional COVID-19 exposures reported at two Saanich schools

New dates of exposure added to Arbutus Global Middle School and Mount Doug Secondary School

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Organ donation form from BC Transplant. (BC Transplant)
POLL: Have you registered as an organ donor?

They number 1.5 million strong and growing. But their numbers still fall… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 6

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
100+ international travellers who landed in B.C. refused to quarantine

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it issued $3,000 violation tickets to each

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

The Campbell River Gun Club outdoor range is located on Argonaut Road west of Campbell River. CRGC/Facebook photo
Campbell River Gun Club range shut down after complaints of stray bullets

Neighbour says bullets hit caretaker’s RV and shattered a glass panel on his deck

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Green Point Campground saw an unprecedented flurry of reservations last week. (Pacific Rim National Park Reserve photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve campground sees ‘unprecedented’ interest

Reservations being accepted as Green Point Campground scheduled to open May 1

Most Read