The WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers have concluded their season, but they still have one more battle to engage in. And this one is with the City of Medicine Hat.
The Medicine Hat News reported Thursday that the Tigers have been served an eviction notice by the City of Medicine Hat as the team currently has no lease agreement to remain in the brand new Canalta Centre, the $74.9 million arena that opened in August. The Tigers reportedly played in the arena for the duration of the season under a temporary access agreement, which was renewed 11 times throughout the campaign, according to the Medicine Hat News.
“We are disappointed that a fair and reasonable permanent license agreement has not yet been completed for use of the Canalta Centre,” Medicine Hat mayor Ted Clugston told the News. “The Tigers are part of the history and the fabric of our community. We want to see them make the Canalta Centre their home for many years to come.”
Clugston told the Medicine Hat News that the Tigers leaving the city would be a “worst-case scenario,” and he added that there’s no wish for the team to leave Medicine Hat.
For their part, the Tigers released a statement Thursday evening saying the organization is “extremely frustrated” in its attempt to lock up a long-term agreement with SMG, the venue management company, and Medicine Hat. The team claimed it approached the city in 2011 to come to a long-term agreement before the Canalta Centre had even been built, and said an agreement was reached in June 2011.
“However the City of Medicine Hat and SMG have been continually looking to claw back what was originally agreed upon,” the Tigers said in their statement. “The Medicine Hat Tigers have been dealing with SMG almost daily for months to finalize this deal. On a conference call last week both parties agreed to the final issues. The Tigers then signed the contract on March 24th, 2016 believing the matter was concluded. However, once again the City and SMG decided to make changes and not to honor what was agreed to earlier that week, a trend that has become too common in these negotiations.”
The Tigers said they have asked for assistance from the league in locking up a long-term agreement with SMG and the city. If an agreement is reached, the city said they would welcome the Tigers back to the Canalta Centre for the upcoming campaign.
During the 2015-16 season, the Tigers averaged an attendance of nearly 4,250 per game and finished the season in a tie for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. However, the Tigers dropped a one-game tie-breaker to the Edmonton Oil Kings. Their loss marked the first time in 14 seasons the Tigers failed to make the post-season.