Charlottetown will likely not host an NHL training camp in 2012, says Mayor Clifford Lee.
The Dallas Stars recently announced its decision not to return to Charlottetown for its training camp this summer, but that came as no surprise to city officials. The city did not even try to recruit the Stars this year.
The event did not attract enough spectators in 2011 and therefore it did not make financial sense to further pursue the team, Lee said.
And considering most teams have already made their plans for next season’s training camps, attracting another NHL team to replace the Stars in Charlottetown is unlikely.
“Realistically, recognizing that this is January and training camp is just a few months away for some teams, most teams probably have their decisions made for this year,” Lee said in an interview.
“We had discussions, quite honestly, with some people in the Dallas organization and some people in the city organization. But I think from the 2011, there was a lot of empty seats and from a financial perspective bringing Dallas back just didn’t work for the city of Charlottetown,” Lee said.
Attendance was down at the event’s intrasquad game last summer compared to the first year the Stars’ training camp was held in the capital in 2010. This game is one of the only revenue generators to offset the $35,000 city expenditure for the event. It made $60,000 in its first year, but dropped to around $40,000 in the second.
Lee believes a number of factors played into this loss, including a change in the time of the game in the second year and a loss of the novelty factor due to hosting the same team two years consecutively.
It is also believed Murray Harbour native Brad Richards’ move from the Stars to the New York Rangers in 2011 is another major reason the crowds weren’t there.
Lee said city officials worried bringing the Stars back for a third year might mean even more losses.
“If you lost $20,000 in one year, would you lose another $20,000 in year 2012 and, if that was the case, it was just too risky to risk taxpayers’ money on.”
Despite the fact most teams have likely made their plans for 2012, Lee said the city is still actively trying to recruit other teams to the city.
He would not divulge exactly what teams have been approached, but said it would be safe to assume any teams with P.E.I. connections would be ideal.
Adam McQuaid’s Corwall roots and his Boston Bruins’ close proximity to P.E.I. make it an obvious potential, he said. Lee also mentioned the New York Rangers with Richards and the Toronto Maple Leafs with Dion Phaneuf, who summers in P.E.I.
“We’re not giving up on our interest in hosting training camps here in Charlottetown,” Lee said.
“Honestly, I think if we can get a team with P.E.I. connections then it’s probably going to be more beneficial at the end of the day because Islanders would take more interest in it ... But realistically, my expectation at this point is 2012 is probably not going to happen.”