By Tim Kalinowski
After the City of Medicine served notice to the Medicine Hat Tigers to vacate the Canalta Centre last Thursday, reaction was fast and furious. A statement from the Tigers on March 31 blamed the city and Canalta Centre management for the situation.
“In June of 2011 the Medicine Hat Tigers approached the City of Medicine Hat about entering into a long term lease agreement,” the statement read in part. “The financial terms of the agreement were settled in June 2015; however the City of Medicine Hat and SMG have been continually looking to claw back what was originally agreed upon.”
The statement went on to say another agreement signed between the team and SMG on March 24 was also not honoured, and that SMG was refusing to pay revenue owed to the team despite the Tigers having paid their rent in good order and on time. The team said it has asked the WHL to intervene and assist with the dispute.
The City of Medicine Hat had a different take on the situation. In its statement released the same day it laid out what was the bone of contention, from the city’s point of view, which led to the notice to vacate.
“SMG continues to be available to the Tigers to negotiate and finalize a long-term license agreement for use of the Canalta Centre. Once that agreement is reached, the Tigers will be welcomed back to the Canalta Centre, and work can begin to outfit the team spaces,” it read.
The City also later denied going back on any deals with the Tigers.
“We have conducted ourselves on behalf of the taxpayers in a professional and responsible manner in our business dealings,” said city administrator Merete Heggelund on Friday. “SMG in our opinion has acted and negotiated in good faith, and any party that asserts otherwise is incorrect. It’s an unwarranted allegation.”
Cypress County donated over $700,000 to the Canalta Centre in 2015. Reeve Darcy Geigle said on Friday the county was disappointed with the direction negotiations between the Tigers, SMG and the City of Medicine Hat had gone.
“The Tigers have been in Medicine Hat for a long time, but, I guess, since the season’s over they’ve got all summer to work something out. I am pretty confident that will get accomplished.”
Geigle refused to take any side in the debate, but hoped for a positive outcome.
“I’m not sure who is to blame for the current situation; there are always two sides to the story… I would hope they come to an agreement or it’s going to be a pretty lonely place without the Tigers.”
The Town of Redcliff also donated $100,000 to the Canalta Centre. Mayor Ernie Reimer said he was confident cooler heads would prevail and a long-term deal between the Tigers, SMG and the City would eventually get signed.
“I am sure they will come to an agreement. This (eviction notice) is a tactical procedure that is being used. We are absolutely in favour of having the Tigers stay there (at the Canalta Centre) for the long-term because that’s why it was built in the first place,” said Reimer.