When the buzzer sounded at the end of the third period at last week’s Kingston Voyageurs game, it not only signified the end of the season but, potentially, the end of the franchise.
Last week, Global News reported that, according to league sources, the Voyageurs had been for sale and the owner was near to completing a deal with a Collingwood, Ont., investment group.
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The rumours were confirmed by Voyageurs owner Dijana Oliver, but she was adamant that the deal was not officially done and that it would be discussed at a board of governors meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 26.
However, a league source told Global News on Tuesday morning that the board of governors had approved the sale of the Voyageurs via electronic vote days ahead of the meeting. This was later confirmed by Oliver.
Mark Potter, president of the Original Hockey Hall of Fame, believes this potential sale is devastating for the local hockey community.
“It was only a few years ago they were in the RBC Cup, and throughout their 45-year history, they made the playoffs 32 of those years, which is pretty remarkable for junior hockey. For it to suddenly disappear is not good for hockey in Kingston,” said Potter.
According to league sources, the Collingwood investors group has put together an offer to buy the team for $850,000. Potter says that sum of money would be hard for a new owner to spend to bring another junior hockey club to the Limestone City.
“Junior hockey has become big business. When a junior team is selling for $850,000, there’s not many people who can step up and write the cheque,” said Potter.
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Oliver explained to Global News over the phone that game attendance had been down in recent years, which is part of the reason why the team was for sale. She went on to say that, although the board has approved the sale of the Voyageurs, this does not mean the team is officially sold, as the deal will now go to the league before a final decision is reached in mid-March.
As for how this will impact the Invista Centre — the Voyageurs’ home arena — the City of Kingston said the original licence agreement between the city and the Voyageurs was signed in 2007, and for this season, the agreement was around $20,600.
The City of Kingston told Global News that the current agreement expired on April 30, 2018, and has been held over for this season. City staff have been in conversation with the owners regarding a new agreement, the city says.
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