THUNDER BAY – Today it was my pleasure to attend the press conference at the Fort William Gardens in which Ice Edge Holdings Inc. announced its plan to bring an ECHL team to Thunder Bay.
This is not a “done deal,” but there are more positives than negatives.
On the negative side, the financing is complex and has yet to be fully and firmly determined. Public/private shares in the franchise, building a new rink [or Thunder Bay multicomplex facility (a contingency)], player salaries, ticket prices, travel costs, and so on. Also, will the City have an adequate fan base, considering all of the diverse hockey that is currently ongoing–from tiny youth leagues to Varsity level?
A meeting, in the future, of Ice Edge with Lakehead University would be an excellent idea.
On the positive side, the Ice Edge group has money, and excellent leadership in the likes of Keith McCullough, a former Captain of the Yale University varsity hockey team and a very successful New York hedgefunds’ company executive, and Anthony LeBlanc, a very experienced business and sports executive and, quite recently, a winner of a prestigious Lakehead University Young Alumni Award.
Both grew up in Thunder Bay. Ice Edge also has going for it the fact that the ECHL Commissioner, Brian McKenna (in the City today), knows Thunder Bay and its high-level hockey potential in that he was part of the champion Thunder Bay Senators, the farm team to the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, when that franchise operated here several years ago.