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Bulldogs heading down 403 to Brantford

Team hopeful fans will follow

The Hamilton Bulldogs will spend the next three seasons as the Brantford Bulldogs. That was the word from both the OHL hockey team and the city of Brantford who will vote on a deal with the Bulldogs next week.

The key element of the deal is a partnership with the city to pump more than $7.5 million in upgrades into the Brantford Civic Centre to bring it up to OHL standards. $3 million will be contributed by Brantford, the remainder by the Bulldogs. Most of the work will involve a new scoreboard and upgrades to the dressing rooms, concessions and players bench and other facilities.  There will also be a HVAC system installed, which will allow the building to host summer events, which it is currently unable to do because of lack of air conditioning.

A consultant hired by the city is recommending the deal saying it will make a net contribution to the local economy and showcase Brantford at a national level. The plan is for the team to get started on the renovations almost immediately after the deal receives approval by council. The city’s mayor had told media the move, though temporary, will position Branford a possible permanent site for an OHL team. Brantford did host an OHL team, when the Hamilton Fincups moved to Brantford in the 1970’s to become the Brantford Alexanders—an arrangement that lasted six years.

The team is hoping the move to Brantford will allow the Bulldogs existing fan base to continue to support the team which will be a 30-minute drive from Hamilton Mountain, and 20 minutes from Ancaster, where team members are billeted and attend high school.

The move follows the announcement last year that the First Ontario Centre would be closed for the renovations being planned by the HUPEG group who are taking over Hamilton’s entertainment facilities. The Bulldogs said they had initially been led to believe the arena would be able to operate during renovations, but when that changed a scramble was on to find other sites for the teams using the facility.

“We were out in the cold and Brantford took us in,” said team owner Michael Andlauer. “The mayor is very enthusiastic and he was right on top of it. Brantford really wanted us. This is the right thing for the players and for our fans on the mountain.”

Andlauer, president and CEO of Andlauer Healthcare Group Inc., which owns and transport and logistics companies in Canada, and who is a part-owner of the Montreal Canadiens, said the move to the civic centre isn’t about a return on investment for the Bulldogs.

“It’s not about making money on this thing,” he said. “It’s about doing what’s right.”

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