Nanaimo WHL franchise moving closer to a reality
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A Victoria Royals island rival is becoming more of a reality with each passing day.
Nanaimo, which currently has two successful junior teams in the Nanaimo Clippers of the BC Junior Hockey League play Junior A and the Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League play Junior B may get a Major Junior franchise to help put the Hub City on the proverbial hockey map.
First, however, the city is holding a referendum sometime in February or March 2017.
The referendum is for the financing of a new, appropriately –sized arena. With that arena, Nanaimo hopes a Western Hockey League franchise may want to move there or for the league to expand, which apparently the WHL has demonstrated some interest in doing.
One team that has been for sale for over five years due to lack of attendance is the Kootenay Ice, who play in Cranbrook.
Two locations that are up for consideration in Nanaimo are the Howard Johnson site at the corner of Comox Road and Terminal Avenue, and the 1 Port Drive Site located in the south downtown waterfront area.
The referendum is asking for council to pass a budget that will take the project to a minimum of 70 million dollars. They are hoping to build an arena that will take 5,700 spectators for hockey.
The Royals will benefit from having an island rival for the obvious transportation reasons, having to play a handful of games in Nanaimo will cut out a few trips to the mainland, saving the team greatly on time and BC Ferry costs.