TORONTO — The Belleville Bulls will be moving to Steeltown later this year.
The Ontario Hockey League’s Board of Governors approved the relocation of the franchise to Hamilton starting in the 2015-’16 season, the OHL said Thursday in a release.
The board also approved the transfer of team ownership from Gord Simmonds to Michael Andlauer. The team will be renamed the Hamilton Bulldogs and play in the OHL’s East Division out of FirstOntario Centre next season.
"Michael Andlauer is well known for his commitment to both the game and the community, and we welcome him to the OHL family," said OHL commissioner David Branch. "Hamilton has a long and storied history in junior hockey and we look forward to building on this tradition starting next season."
Hamilton will return to the OHL for the first time since the Dukes of Hamilton departed for Guelph in 1991.
The Bulls, meanwhile, have played in Belleville since 1981. Simmonds has owned the team since 2004.
"The Bulls have been a part of the Belleville community for over 30 years and we respect the role they have played in the community," said Branch. "It is the OHL’s hope, as with other small cities in our league, that one day, with the right conditions, OHL hockey will return to Belleville."
The Bulls are seventh in the Eastern Conference standings with a 25-30-3-4 record.
The current Hamilton Bulldogs team — which plays in the American Hockey League — will be relocated to St. John’s, N.L., next season.