Chatham Still In The OHL Running

Plymouth Whalers relocating

Plymouth Whalers celebrate following a goal this season – Photo by Aaron Bell/ OHL Images

When the December 31 deadline for OHL franchises to apply for relocation came and went, some believed Chatham, Ontario was out of contention for an OHL franchise, namely the Plymouth Whalers. The possibility of an OHL franchise however, is still on the table in Chatham.

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is currently compiling information, and waiting for contact, they expect to come soon, from the OHL team in question.

According to Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent has been working on the requests left on the table by what he still refers to as an “unnamed OHL team,” based on the team’s requests, and he hopes to hear back from that OHL team in the next few weeks.

“We had an initial meeting on the 22 of December, exchanged a bunch of questions, including what our plans were for an arena,” said Shropshire.

“I’d expect they will make a decision very soon, something within the next few weeks.”

In the meantime, Chatham-Kent staff are preparing a report for the OHL franchise, and council, should the OHL team decide to move forward with Chatham, Ontario as a potential destination.

“We’ve made a commitment to get the information they requested, and then if they want to proceed, it will go to council, and we will move forward,” said Shropshire.

With rumours of other communities being selected as the destination for the OHL franchise, identified by as the Plymouth Whalers, Shropshire said he personally reached out to the OHL club looking for a confirmation that Chatham was out of the running, but rather, he learned the OHL team was still in the decision making process.

“I wrote them Monday, and they got back to me. They have not made a decision, and we were told to continue our process,” said Shropshire.

“Right now, it all hinges on their decision. We should hear soon. Hopefully a report will go to council this month.”

The Plymouth Whalers admitted to “identifying available and viable markets,” for a possible relocation in December, but also stated it was too soon to speculate as to where, or if, the team would relocate.

Now, Chatham-Kent residents and staff will have to wait for contact from the Whalers. One thing is clear however, “soon,” is getting closer, and a decision, for or against Chatham, should be coming within the month.

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