The Eagles are already the ECHL affiliate of the Avalanche, with the San Antonio Rampage serving as the Avs’ AHL team. While Budweiser Events Center has an OK capacity of 5,289, the team averaged 4,751 fans per game in the 2016-2017 ECHL season — a number that would have been in the bottom half of AHL attendance, far below the league average of 6,351.
Still, Eagles part-owner and CEO Martin Lind would love to see his team move to AHL from ECHL, according to BSNDenver.com:
“If all the moons could align the right way, that would be our happy, swan-song destination,” said Lind, the CEO of Water Valley Land Co., based in Windsor. “I don’t think there’s a minor-league hockey team in the United States that doesn’t dream of being in the AHL. That’s the pinnacle. that’s the next-best level to the NHL. But you have to be accepted, you have to be proven. You can’t just buy your way in.”
Getting there would mean arena upgrades, but not necessarily by adding a ton of additional seating. Bob Herrfeldt, Larimer County director of The Ranch Complex that includes the Budweiser Events Center, says an expansion of the facility would be more than just some new seating, but rather the addition of bars, group and SRO social spaces so popular in the sports world these days. This sort of design addition gets more people in the door while giving them different views and angles for the action on the ice:
“The days of the sporting experience where you’re just planted in your seats the whole time are over,” Herrfeldt said. “Teams are finding now that fans, especially younger ones, don’t want to just be chained to their seats. The trend now is for more open area bar tops and rooftops, where maybe you want to gather easier with friends at a club lounge and have the freedom to experience the event from different areas and angles. That’s something we can do, that we plan to do. What we can’t do, what we don’t wants to do, is just do something like add 2,000 fixed seats.”
No final decisions have been made on any Budweiser Events Center upgrades.