The commissioner of the Western Hockey League says in the long-term, Lloydminster could be considered for a team, but it would have to be considered a priority market.
Ron Robison confirmed the league met with the Frog Lake First Nation, which proposed an entertainment complex for the western edge of Lloydminster that would include a hotel and convention centre, casino, and WHL-sized arena.
“Anytime a project of this nature occurs in the Western Canadian region, we have a strong interest in determining if that’s a feasible project or not,” Robison said. But he cautioned it’s too soon to say if a franchise could work in the city, which had a population of 27,804 in the 2011 census.
“There’s a number of things that come into play. First of all, the type of facility that’s created,” Robison explained. “The availability of a franchise; we’re committed to maintaining our franchises in our current markets, and that’s always been our focus. But in the event long-term that there was a franchise available we’d certainly consider the market at that time.”
Robison also ruled out expansion and said the league is committed to its existing 22 cities. Even if a franchise became a candidate for relocation, he said there are other markets that might be more of a strategic priority for the league.
Bruce Simms, project leader for Frog Lake First Nation, said on Tuesday the arena could hold a capacity of at least 6,500. Robison was concerned that might be too large for the market size.
“We would suggest it would be somewhat smaller, not unlike what we’ve done in Moose Jaw, with a 4,400-seat arena,” Robison said.
Simms said the Frog Lake group planned an integrated complex, in which hockey, concerts, conventions, gaming, and other activities are all part of the picture.
Geoff Smith is battlefordsNOW's News Director, business and agriculture reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] or tweet him @smithco.
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