The proof will be in the details that come out Wednesday, of course, but Terry Camp of Flint's ABC 12 News and Aaron McMann of the Flint Journal have passed along word that a franchise move within the state of Michigan is just a matter of finishing the paperwork and getting OHL approval. The team has called a press conference for Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET in Plymouth.
Plymouth Whalers to hold press conference tomorrow to discuss future of team..all signs point to a move to Flint..pending OHL approval
— Terry Camp (@ABC12Terry) January 13, 2015
#BREAKING Deal to move the OHL's Plymouth Whalers to Flint appears done. Press conference called for tomorrow AM at Compuware Arena.
— Aaron McMann (@AaronMcMann) January 13, 2015
That clears up weeks, nay months, of speculation about how much longer the franchise was for Plymouth.
Ultimately, the OHL gains from keeping a third team Stateside, along with the Saginaw Spirit and Erie Otters. That is essential for maintaining a strong recruiting base from the U.S.. Flint's Perani Arena is also adequately sized for major junior hockey at 4,021, especially if the new product is marketed and promoted properly. That's more of a benefit to 19 other teams than continuously small crowd in Plymouth, or playing at a temporary home in Chatham.
Saginaw would also gain a more natural rival.
In terms of expediency, this makes sense. Chatham has some appeal as an idea, but the lack of a suitable venue might not make it a suitable landing spot for a team in an apparently rush to move (as previously outlined).
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.