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AHL is Back! Posted by jac on

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador will be home to an American Hockey League (AHL) franchise, effective with the 2011-12 season.

Danny Williams, President and CEO of the new organization and Craig Heisinger of True North Sports and Entertainment made the announcement today at Mile One Centre. They were joined by Glenn Stanford, Chief Operating Officer of the new organization; Dave Andrews, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer; and Dennis O’Keefe, Mayor of the City of St. John’s.

“I am delighted to welcome professional hockey back to the province and back to Mile One Centre, which very soon will be filled with thousands of fans,” said Mr. Williams. “There is no doubt that St. John’s is a hockey town, and indeed the entire province has a strong connection to this beloved sport. Newfoundland and Labrador is a province with a renewed sense of optimism and pride, and our economy is better positioned than ever before. To see professional hockey back is yet another indication that we are a province on the move. It will provide tremendous economic activity and spin-offs and it restores our reputation as a vibrant, passionate hockey town. I hope people will embrace our new team and support them as only Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can.”

Mr. Williams and Mr. Stanford have worked relentlessly to finalize an agreement to bring the AHL back to St. John’s, and were thrilled to join with True North Sports and Entertainment in announcing the team and the AHL is back campaign. Mr. Williams and Mr. Stanford negotiated an agreement to license an AHL franchise from True North Sports and Entertainment. The agreement was made possible through a series of recent moves at the NHL and AHL levels, which saw Winnipeg welcome an NHL team back to its city and relocate its former AHL franchise, the Manitoba Moose.

“We are excited to partner with Glenn Stanford and Danny Williams in the opportunity to once again return the American Hockey League to St. John’s, NF with our new affiliation,” said Craig Heisinger, the Director of Hockey Operations and Assistant General Manager of Winnipeg’s NHL franchise. “The city and its hockey fans have already proven St. John’s is a perfect environment to develop successful professional hockey players. Through our years operating the Manitoba Moose, we at True North have established a tradition of winning in the American Hockey League while sending players to the National Hockey League level. We know that will be carried forward with the new St. John’s organization.”

On Thursday, June 9, the AHL Board of Governors unanimously approved the relocation of the Manitoba Moose franchise owned by True North Sports and Entertainment from Winnipeg to St. John’s.

“The American Hockey League is excited to be returning to St. John’s,” said Dave Andrews, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer. “The people of Newfoundland and Labrador showed tremendous support for our league in the past, and we’re confident that passion will return this fall.”

“Now that the deal has been finalized, the immediate priority is selling season tickets,” said Mr. Stanford. “The sale of season tickets will ensure the team receives the loyal and consistent support it needs to thrive.”

Beginning Saturday, June 11 precisely at 12 noon, hockey fans can reserve space in a queue for season tickets by visiting www.ahlisback.com. Reserving space will require a $50 / season deposit. Priority access to purchase season tickets will first go to existing St. John’s Maple Leafs, St. John’s Fog Devils and Mile One Centre hot seat holders, who are willing to make a three-year commitment. More details on how ticket sales will proceed are in the attached backgrounder.

“Out of respect and as a courtesy to loyal hockey fans and supporters, former season ticket holders who are willing to make a three-year commitment will be afforded an opportunity to purchase season tickets in advance of others,” said Mr. Stanford. “After years of loyalty in holding onto their tickets, this is an appropriate gesture of thanks to those people who have demonstrated their passion and support. There is a very defined process set out for the purchase of season tickets that will be adhered throughout the process. Everyone looking to sign on to become season ticket holders should immediately visit ahlisback.com for all of the information.”

“The economic value of bringing a team like this to the province is immense,” said Gerry Smith, Board Chair of St. John’s Sports and Entertainment, an organization that governs Mile One Centre, home base for the AHL franchise. “The already thriving economy in the capital region will be boosted yet again, providing sporting entertainment that is fast-paced and engaging at the province’s premiere entertainment facility.”

“We couldn’t be more delighted that a deal has been finalized with True North Sports and Entertainment to bring professional hockey back to the City of St. John’s and the province,” said Dennis O’Keefe, City of St. John’s Mayor. “I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Danny Williams, Glenn Stanford, and colleagues on successfully completing this agreement. St. John’s Sports and Entertainment has been working to attract a professional hockey franchise to Mile One Centre and we are so pleased to see it finally become a reality. I can’t wait to be in the stands cheering American Hockey League action and experiencing the excitement only this level of hockey can deliver.”

Today’s announcement was made at Mile One Centre – future home of the AHL team – among hundreds of hockey enthusiasts and community leaders.

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