By Cam Kennedy
It’s been almost two weeks since it was announced the Belleville Bulls would be leaving to Hamilton. Still hasn’t suck in yet, has it?
I’ve only been here in Belleville for almost two years now, yet I have a strong sense of what the Bulls mean to the area. The Bulls in some ways, put Belleville on the map. They are one of the more “historic” franchises you could say, in the Ontario Hockey League. “Historic”, like the arena the team plays in.
The Yardmen Arena certainly isn’t state of the art. However, how many times do you find yourself going to an arena talking about how futuristic or state of the art it is? You don’t. Arenas are canvases that await big moments to take place. Forget the foundation it takes to build an arena, the real foundation are the historic games that have taken place on the sheet of ice.
Fingers can be pointed in every direction as to why the beloved Bulls will take their stampede to Hamilton. Belleville mayor Taso Christopher has taken his fair share of the blame, so has former Bulls owner Gord Simmonds.
If you are a Bulls fan in Belleville however, lay some of the blame on yourself.
The opportunities were given to support this hometown team. Yet, the attendance numbers always dwindled at the bottom of the league’s rankings.
Simmonds made it clear that upwards of 3,000 people needed to attend games at the Yardmen in order to keep this operation running. The only time 3,000 people attended a Bulls’ game on my mind was last Saturday, the final regular season home game.
A little too late.
Fans flocked the arena like it was a final chance to show that they would start packing the seats every game. The same thing will probably happen when the Bulls host the Barrie Colts in the first round of the playoffs.
I do think Belleville is a hockey city, you could argue any Canadian city is. Hopes have even come up saying the Erie Otters could be on the move here, it’s all speculation however. But before any team comes back to this city, the city needs to be ready to host an OHL franchise.
Let the loss of the Bulls be a reminder that you can lose something you love in an instant so that maybe when another team opens its arms to this city, Belleville will be ready.