Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) will have a new home when the 2023-24 season gets underway next fall.
Brantford City Council unanimously approved a staff report recommending the City enter into an agreement with the Hamilton Bulldogs that will see the team relocated to Brantford during a special Council meeting on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
Under the agreement, the team will be rebranded as the “Brantford Bulldogs” and the team will play their home games out of the Brantford and District Civic Centre for, at least, the next three years.
As per the terms of the agreement, the facility will receive substantial upgrades to meet fan, player and OHL standards. The total estimated cost of the upgrades to the Civic Centre necessary to reach these standards is approximately $7.5 million. While the Bulldogs organization will fund the upgrades, the City will provide the team with a leasehold improvement allowance of up to $3 million for necessary capital improvements.
In addition to the City’s contribution toward upgrades, installation of an HVAC system estimated at $1.625 million will also be funded by the City, with the funding coming from the municipalities’ Casino Legacy Reserve fund.
Brantford will host an OHL team for the second time, having previously hosted the Brantford Alexanders, the relocated Hamilton Fincups, from 1978 through 1984.
“I am very excited about bringing an OHL team to Brantford and thrilled that Council has unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed this partnership,” said Kevin Davis, Mayor for the City of Brantford. “Based on the community’s overwhelmingly positive reaction to this news so far, I’m very confident that the Bulldogs fanbase will grow substantially in Brantford. On behalf of a grateful community, I want to thank the Bulldogs organization for having faith and confidence in Brantford as well as all the City staff who worked tirelessly to make this a reality for our deserving community.”
The Bulldogs were forced to relocate due to upcoming renovations and the potential long-term closure of their current home, the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton.
The City of Brantford has shown incredible commitment and excitement to have the Bulldogs call the Brantford Civic Centre home and with the city’s proximity to the franchise’s existing fanbase it makes Brantford the right place for the Bulldogs to move forward.
“We are so thankful for the enthusiastic and immediate response from Mayor Davis, Brantford Council and city staff,” said team owner Michael Andlauer. “Together, we have been able to make a home for the Bulldogs in a short and unexpected period of time.”