The Prince George Cougars signed a six-year lease agreement with the City of Prince George this week to keep the team playing in CN Centre, the largest hockey venue in Northern BC into 2025.
A source told DUBNetwork it wasn’t always an easy road to getting the deal done with plenty of challenges along the way. At one point, the lease agreement was only a handful of years long.
With the Kootenay Ice on the move to Winnipeg and with attendance numbers down for the team in 2018-19, there were talks throughout the season that the Cougars were potentially the next domino to fall to relocation.
When announced though, Mayor of Prince George Lynn Hall made it clear that the City doesn’t want to let the team slip away.
“This agreement allows for both organizations in the future, based on team improvements and increased attendance at CN Centre”
On the Cougars side, there were rumours circling the team had wanted to have more control over food and beverage services at the arena, although that did not happen. Andy Beesley said though, getting the deal locked down to show their commitment to Northern BC was a top priority.
“We are here to stay, and we are fully committed to Prince George. We have heavily invested in the community and will continue to do so.”
As part of the agreement, the Cougars pay their piece of the pie based on a revenue sharing agreement as opposed to a flat rate. One dollar figure stated in the press release outlines that the team will pay $50,000 per year from the proceeds of advertising the club sells in the facility.
The CN Centre opened in 1995, with a capacity of nearly 6,000 and was the first of its kind for Prince George and Northern British Columbia.
Beesley said the arena has hosted nearly 2 million fans during Cougars games since that time.
The Cougars have been very active in investing in the building, most recently purchasing a new video score clock in 2016 worth reportedly just under a million dollars. The City of Prince George paid $546,000 of the estimated $850,000 total and paying EDGEPRO Sports and Entertainment group, which owns the team, paying the rest.
The next investment into the facility as per league requirements for the 2019-20 season is a new set of rink boards set to cost just over $500,000. The City has agreed to pay for half of the cost, with the rest set to fall on the team’s shoulders.
At the end of the day, the Cougars will continue to play in Prince George with the team set for better on-ice performance in the near future. A time that has fans with hopes that some wins will spark better some more bodies in the building and create an enjoyable atmosphere.