With unanimous approval from both the OHL Board of Governors and the council of North Bay, everything is now in place for the Brampton Battalion to relocate to North Bay, beginning next season.
The team’s history in Brampton dates back to 1998-99, when the Battalion first joined the Ontario Hockey League. Since then, the team has struggled over fifteen years, and the lease at the Powerade Centre expires in August, so a move can occur without issue.
Meanwhile, North Bay will see the return of an OHL team to a city that lost theirs in 2002. The former North Bay Centennials – who were previously located in Niagara Falls – relocated to Saginaw after 20 years in North Bay and became the Saginaw Spirit. The move was due to declining profits and an aging arena, both factors which led the team unable to turn over a profit.
NHL alumni of the Centennials include Paul Bissonnette, Trevor Gillies, Steve Montador and Alex Auld, among others.
So far, over 2,175 season tickets have been sold for the team in North Bay for the 2013-2014 season. The team will continue to be known as the Battalion, and will play at Memorial Gardens, the former home of the Centennials.
The arena will undergo major renovations to prepare for the Battalion’s arrival – $12 million work includes increasing seating capacity, reconfiguring the ice surface and building a new team dressing room. Upgraded concessions, new corporate suites and improvements in sound and lighting are also in the works.
Renovations are targeted to be completed in mid-August, prior to the start of the OHL season.
North Bay joins Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie as one of the northernmost teams in the Ontario Hockey League. The southernmost team – the Erie Otters, located in Pennsylvania, are about 398 miles southwest of North Bay.