Rogers Bussey Arena dispute drags on

Kenn Oliver
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Major midget teams latest to become involved

Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador didn’t want to involve itself the dispute between the privately owned Rogers Bussey Arena and the Avalon Minor Hockey Association, but it is now.

In a fax sent Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League executive members this week, HNL and the minor council said they will not allow any major midget hockey team to use the facility as home ice for the upcoming 2013-14 season. Both the St. John’s Maple Leafs and the St. John’s Privateers were looking to move from their current respective homes — Capital Hyundai Arena and Goulds Arena — and the move to Rogers Bussey Arena was approved by the league.

“They have all the right in the world to do what they’re doing. They own their business and can decide who they want in there at any time,” says HNL president Jack Lee.

“But what’s to say next week something happens with one of the major midget teams and they give them the heave-ho. They are a private enterprise.”

In May, not long after the minor hockey season wrapped, Avalon Minor president Aiden Craig was notified by the arena’s owners and operators that the five-year agreement signed in August of 2012 was terminated as a result of breach of contract. Neither side was willing to divulge the reasons for the termination at the time, and Craig told the Telegram on Wednesday that “little progress” has been made toward resolving the matter.

“The biggest issue here is there’s 400-plus kids who haven’t got a home for next year,” Lee says. “We’ve got to try to provide them a game of hockey somewhere and if we’re going to allow another 40 kids go in there and take up ice time that was being used by the association in dispute, that would be crazy.”

Lee and minor council chair Arnold Kelly expect to meet with Avalon Minor executive next week to discuss the matter further.

Privateers head coach and general manager Doug Jackman says the decision to move from the Goulds arena, its home ice for the last number of seasons, was based purely on he and assistant coach/general manager Kris Abbott’s need to stay closer to home.

“There was no conflict with the Goulds Arena itself or the staff there, it was just to make our home life a little easier,” said Jackman

Jackman, speaking solely on behalf of the Privateers, is hoping there’s a resolution to the situation without having to find a new home for the team. That’s because going back to the Goulds is likely not an option.

“I haven’t spoken to the Goulds Arena directly, but I’ve learned through other sources that the ice time is unavailable.”

Jackman is hoping there’s a resolution to the matter within the next week.

“When we re-applied for the franchise, it was under the assumption we would be playing out of Rogers Bussey and when that was approved, we figured all systems were go.

“At the end of the day, that’s what we want. I’m hoping that how it’ll end up this time next week.”

koliver@thetelegram.com

Twitter@telykenn

Organizations: Hockey League, Maple Leafs

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Goulds

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  • President Lee
    July 11, 2013 - 08:44

    Again we see Jack Lee using an argument that makes no sense. He wants a fight with the arena and that's the bottom line. Every arena in St. John's is privately operated outside of Twin Rinks....so what's his point?!