New owners of the IceDogs would need city approval to move out of Niagara

Niagara IceDogs Bonnie

The Niagara IceDogs have been sold, and it looks like the team will be staying put.

The owners of the St. Catharines-based team have sold the to a Brantford businessman, Darren DeDobbelaer, pending approval from the OHL.

DeDobbelaer owns and operates two junior hockey teams in Brantford.

St. Catharines CAO David Oakes says the IceDogs' license agreement has a clause that requires any permanent relocation of the team to require written consent by the city.

Mayor Walter Sendzik tells CKTB he's not concerned the new owner would relocate, saying DeDobbelaer has told him his goal is to bring a Memorial Cup to the community.

The current owners of the IceDogs, Bill and Denise Burke, announced the sale yesterday saying after 15 years, it was time to move on.

The Burkes moved the team from Mississauga to St. Catharines and started playing at the aging Jack Gatecliff Arena, before the Meridian Centre was built for the 2014 season.

The Meridian Centre cost $50 million and was publicly funded.

Sendzik says the Burke's helped bring the OHL back to St. Catharines.

"The OHL has a deep history in our community, and the Burkes renewed that spark when they bought the IceDogs and moved them to St. Catharines in 2007. Bill and Denise made an investment that helped play a role in the transformation of our downtown core with the IceDogs serving as anchor tenant of Meridian Centre. They believed in St. Catharines – Niagara, and they were proven right with the support of the team since for the last 15 years."

The IceDogs faced a major hurdle earlier this year after the OHL suspended its general manager, and head coach, after an investigation into a text message conversation that used sexist and homophobic slurs.

OHL Commissioner David Branch announced in April, that the IceDog's general manager, Joey Burke, and head coach, Billy Burke, have been "indefinitely suspended."

Joey and Billy are sons of the owners.

They also face, along with the team, a combined $150,000 fine.

CKTB has reached out to DeDobbelaer for comment.

A dollar amount on the sale has not been released.