A promise made late last fall has been made official with the announcement that the Mississauga Steelheads will be staying put for the next five years. In November, the Peel Regional Review revealed a deal was being hammered out between the hockey club and its landlord, the City of Mississauga.
On May 1, the club announced a deal had been reached which will have the Steelheads hitting the ice again next season in the place they have called home since 2012.
“I am very pleased that we were able to finalize a Hershey Centre agreement with the City of Mississauga,” said Elliott Kerr, Steelheads president and owner. “The city continues to be a valuable partner and we are very appreciative of their support.”
The Hershey Centre will become a name for the past, however, as the publicly owned facility has been rebranded as the Paramount Centre, with the new name taking effect next month.
As part of the agreement, the Steelheads will continue to play Ontario Hockey League games at the newly renamed facility and utilize the accompanying community hockey rinks as their primary practice facility. The Steelheads main office and retail store, The Bait Shop, will remain at the arena.
“Mississauga is a city that proudly supports its sports clubs from grassroots to professional,” said Paul Mitcham, community services commissioner. “Mississauga has been home to the OHL for twenty years and we are pleased that this proud tradition will continue under this new agreement with the Mississauga Steelheads.”
Along with the Raptors 905, the Steelheads are the major tenants at the Hershey Centre with 34 home dates, plus playoffs.
During the past year there had been speculation the team would relocate at the end of this season when the lease expired. With low attendance combined with dwindling media exposure and the fight to stay viable in a market flooded with options, hockey insiders say the team was a candidate to move to another area such as western New York. But those rumours have now been put to rest as the team looks forward to building on the success and playoff run it had this year.
While negations for a new deal had been ongoing, both sides indicated earlier the benefits of staying in Mississauga – the largest market in the Ontario Hockey League – were substantial, especially for the city, which enjoys the status of having a team as well as the need to keep the building occupied.
The Mississauga facility has been home to an OHL team since it opened in 1998. The IceDogs were the first, followed by St. Michael’s Major and, in 2012, the Steelheads. The new lease will extend until the end of the 2022-2023 hockey season.
(Photo: The Mississauga Steelheads will be staying in town for the next five years)