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This article was published 28/1/2019 (725 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The owners of the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice have scheduled a Tuesday afternoon news conference to announce they are moving their franchise to Winnipeg after the 2018-19 season, sources have told the Free Press.
The Ice is last in the Central Division with a 10-32-7-1 record and has the league’s worst attendance. The team has been the subject of relocation reports in the Free Press since October.
The transfer of the team is part of a larger initiative by owner Greg Fettes and a group of high-profile local investors. They plan to build a commercial and entertainment hub, which would be anchored by an arena in Winnipeg’s southwestern corner.
Meanwhile, Fettes and partner Matt Cockell, who is the club's president and general manager, will move the Ice to a temporary home at the 1,400-seat Wayne Fleming Arena on the University of Manitoba campus this fall.
A report from the Cranbrook Daily Townsman Monday indicated Fettes, Cockell and WHL commissioner Ron Robison would also be making a presentation at a media availability in Cranbrook Tuesday morning.
While an arena is being built, sources said the Ice owners have agreed to pay about $400,000 to renovate the aging U of M facility, increasing capacity up to 2,000 and bringing the building up to standards suitable for major-junior hockey.
Construction of a new arena is expected to take at least two seasons.
Fettes has joined forces with local investors — including Tina Jones, Brad Rice and Mike Keane — who wish to develop a 20-acre parcel of land adjacent to The Rink Hockey Academy’s new headquarters. Fettes also has an ownership stake in the academy.
The proposed site, situated on South Landing near MacGillivray Boulevard in the RM of Macdonald, requires rezoning in order to permit the development, which would also include a 4,000-seat arena, a fieldhouse with indoor soccer fields and partially covered outdoor rinks equipped with an ice plant.
During the summer, the development could host outdoor soccer, a farmers market and an outdoor amphitheatre.
The land is zoned for agriculture, which would allow for a recreation centre but not the commercial development that's considered crucial to the project’s success.
Fettes, sources said, is considering other locations, including land near Chief Peguis Trail, if he is unable to get approval for the South Landing location.
Winnipeg has not been home to a WHL franchise since the 1983-84 season when the Warriors were sold and moved to Moose Jaw.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.