With the AHL
expanding into the California sun next year, and every team in the Pacific – save Vancouver – moving their affiliates westward, the Canucks are
going to eventually follow suit. Utica just doesn’t make sense anymore with all of Vancouver’s closest NHL competitors
with an obvious geographic advantage, so there is one place that the Canucks should
move their AHL affiliate to: Langley, British Columbia and the recently constructed Langley Events Centre.
With a beautiful new facility and a growing community
surrounding it, it would be hard for the Canucks to find a more viable suitor for their farm
team. Just think about it, the chance to see rising stars like Nicklas Jensen
Tom Sestito Hunter Shinkaruk in your own backyard. Now, I know what you’re
we tried this before with Abbotsford, how is this any different?” Well, hypothetical questioner, I have answers
First and foremost, geographically Abbotsford is poorly positioned to take advantage of denser populations closer to Surrey and Vancouver – a beautiful facility built in the middle of nowhere, and British
equivalent to Glendale, with less sand and more taxes. It’s approximately 70 kilometres or an hour’s drive out of the
downtown core of Vancouver, whereas the aforementioned Langley is a far more comfortable 55 kilometres and half an hour away, and surrounded by a multitude of other options. Population-wise, there’s not much of a difference between the two municipalities, give or take a
The key to the success of this is families.
Langley is one of the fastest growing cities in the province and is surrounded by growing retail and housing offerings literally minutes away. With reasonable ticket prices and an
exciting team of potential future Canucks, AHL hockey is a surefire hit in the Langley core.
Nobody wanted to see the up-and-coming prospects of the rival Calgary Flames, but people will turn out from all across the lower mainland for a cheap ticket
to see the future boys in blue and green.
The Vancouver Giants – Vancouver’s
main junior franchise – has
seen a dip in turn-out recently, thanks to a recent rebuilding period and
the cost of travel to Vancouver. With tolls and gas, it’s
not as cheap to get to a hockey game as it used to be. The Giants’ attendance numbers have dropped drastically since the 2012-13 season, in which they drew
7,205 on average. This season, they are drawing an average crowd of 5,375. My, have the times
changed. Speaking of the Giants, you can use them as the biggest example as to
why an AHL team in Langley will work.
In 2010, the Giants took their talents to the Langley Events Centre while a big
event happened in Vancouver that you may have heard happened called the
Olympics. The attendance at the LEC was phenomenal, and that was prior to the real estate boom that happened to the city. While the current
tenants, the Langley Rivermen, have seen a steady climb in attendance since
they became a BCHL franchise, nothing compares to pro-level hockey, and the AHL
can provide that.
In terms of capacity, the LEC houses 5,276 for a hockey game,
including suites. That puts them at about the middle of the pack, just below
the league average of 5,362, a number that is nicely padded by the powerhouse
Hershey Bears, which draw on average about 1,500 more than any other franchise.
It’s a no-brainer. Langley needs the AHL, Utica must be relocated, and most of all, the Canucks need Langley.