Binghamton Senators likely moving to Belleville in 2017
Binghamton officials confirmed the tentative move
It looks like the Ottawa Senators' farm team may be on the move, as per current reports. The move has been rumoured for quite some time, but with a Memorandum of Understanding in place, no sides could talk. Essentially, Belleville city council was in talks with an unknown entity about an unknown deal. Most people put together the pieces, knowing that the Maple Leafs were unlikely to move their farm team from their own city, and that the Canadiens are already moving their AHL team to Laval, and realized that most likely the Senators were going to move their AHL team to Canada. It would end an Ottawa-Binghamton partnership that has been in effect since 2002.
For Ottawa, there are some draws in moving their farm team. For one, being much closer to home makes call-ups easier, but more than that, can lead to more in-combination events. The B-Sens used to play at Canadian Tire Centre once per season -- could that happen more with the farm team a three-hour drive away? It would be more convenient for coaches and management to head down to watch a single game. Also, the Sens gave up ownership of their farm team in moving it to Binghamton, and would likely claw some control back if headed to Belleville.
The good news for Binghamton fans is that the AHL has said a team will remain in Binghamton. It's too good a market for the AHL to risk losing, and with a lot of AHL franchises shuffling, one will likely be moved to Broome County, NY. And as our own Jeff Ulmer pointed out, ownership in Binghamton is ready this time. They have known relocation was a possibility, and are preparing to renew an arena lease regardless of what happens with the Sens. But it will mean getting to know a whole different batch of prospects, and (likely) becoming invested in a new NHL franchise. On a personal note, it'll mean losing contact with some of our dear Binghamton friends, including Jeff and our regular B-Sens photographer, Alicia Strauch.
It's important to note there are some hurdles to clear here still. Belleville needs to agree to the AHL-mandated costs of upgrading their arena. The AHL board needs to approve the move. Belleville and the Sens will need to hammer out an ownership agreement. Bu it's looking more and more like the B in B-Sens will refer to a different city starting next year.