Wilmington’s Ristuccia Arena is the practice home of the Boston Bruins. For now.
During an end of year press conference on Thursday, members of the Bruins ownership group touched on the subject and admitted they are exploring other venues where the team may skate on off days.
According to team president Cam Neely, there is one year left on the Bruins’ lease with Ristuccia Arena, where the team has practiced for decades.
“We still have some term on Wilmington,” Neely said, according to a transcript of the press conference on the Bruins website. “There’s one year left. We’re in discussions with them right now.”
Charlie Jacobs, the Bruins’ principal and alternate governor, said during the press conference that there is a desire among the organization to find a more state of the art facility.
“Frankly, Cam and I have been collaborating a bit on what should be the best facility for us moving forward,” said Jacobs. “We batted and considered Wilmington around a bit and obviously also explored some other locations. We like to think of our training facility and practice facilities as a drawing card for players that might be playing in other markets.”
The team is working on plans for renovations in the area around TD Garden, but it is not believed a practice facility would be built as a part of the plans.
“The practice facility really needs to be, if you will, world class in that regard,” said Jacobs. “So we put, for lack of a better term, a blue ribbon committee to say, ‘Let’s try to find the right location that’s within a very short driving distance to the Boston Garden that could offer that kind of environment, that kind of ice and training facility.’”
From the town’s perspective, it’s unclear what the impact of a potential move could have. Wilmington government has no control over the facility, since the lease is taken out through Ristuccia Arena management.
Town Manager Michael Caira said while he hadn’t heard the news of the potential move, he wouldn’t hold a grudge if the team decided to move out of town.
“It’s nice to have them here and people enjoy saying the Bruins practice in Wilmington,” said Caira. “But if they leave for greener pastures, we’ll just wish them well and hope the rink would at least revert back to its original intention, and that’s to provide ice time for youngsters.”
Caira did say there are different outcomes that could come from the team moving out of Wilmington.
The potential move could mean more availability for local teams on the ice, but Caira said it remains to be seen if the arena’s rental cost could increase to make up for the gap without the Bruins as a tenant.
A call to Ristuccia Arena was not returned to Wilmington Patch by publication time of this article.
“We’re in the process of (deciding what the best option is) now,” said Jacobs. “We don’t have any final answers to share with you today, other than saying we’ve done a lot of work on this subject and I think we’re drawing to a real good conclusion.”