There will be no negotiations in the immediate future around the possibility of bringing an ECHL team to Mile One Centre.
In a release issued this morning by St. John’s Sports and Entertainment, the city-appointed board that operates Mile One said that Atlantic Sports Enterprises, owners of the St. John’s Edge, have indicated they want to go to binding arbitration over hockey exclusivity at the facility.
When the National Basketball League of Canada’s Edge signed a lease agreement last year, it included a clause providing the owners of the basketball team with 18 months of exclusivity when it came to delivering a hockey team to the building.
But there was a sub-clause that basically said if an individual or group other than the Edge ownership came forward with another hockey proposal, then the Edge owners would have a certain amount of time to deliver their own hockey plan. Otherwise, the exclusivity would disappear.
In early December, St. John’s businessman man Dean MacDonald indicated to SJSE that he was in the process of acquiring an ECHL franchise for the capital city, thereby activating the sub-clause and giving Atlantic Sports 45 days to come up with its own hockey plan.
That period ended Monday, Jan. 22, after which MacDonald formally indicated a desire to begin lease negotiations towards bringing and ECHL team to begin plan at Mile One this fall.
However, no negotiations have taken place and now we’ve learned why. SJSE says until the arbitrator’s decision is rendered, they won’t negotiate or enter into an any agreement with any proponent. In this case, that proponent is MacDonald, who along with Glenn Stanford, the face behind St. John's American Hockey League teams for 20 years, most recently as chief operating officer of the St. John's IceCaps, have approval from the ECHL to bring an expansion team to St. John's for the 2018-19 season.
The Telegram has learned that they have secured an affiliation with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
Atlantic Sports Enterprises is also pursuing a team, be it an ECHL or Quebec Major Junior Hockey League franchise.