The push is on for an ECHL team in Reno, where the Reno Puck Club is making its case to bring a team to the city.
Reno’s last rendezvous with professional hockey was the WCHL’s Reno Renegades (later renamed the Rage), a franchise played at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center from 1995-1998. Efforts have come and gone over the years to bring professional hockey back to Reno, but there is some urgency this time. Reno Puck Club, a group headed by Ken Lehner, wants to bring an ECHL team to the city under a certain set a parameters, mainly that his organization is granted management of the Reno Events Center.
For a few reasons, the timing of this endeavor is notable. With MiLB’s Reno Aces gaining popularity and the USL’s Reno 1868 FC coming on board, downtown Reno has become more viable for professional sports. Additionally, hockey operations in the AHL and ECHL are picking up in the West, and the addition of Reno could coincide with the debut of Las Vegas’ NHL expansion franchise.
A potential ECHL squad in Reno offers plenty of intrigue, but it would require the Reno Puck Club to facilitate a lot of work to the Reno Events Center. More from the Reno Gazette-Journal:
Getting the Reno Events Center to host hockey games and ice events, however, requires investment in improvements. The Reno Puck Club estimates a $5.7 million price tag for adding a professional ice surface, on-ice seats, modifications and locker rooms that will pass muster with the ECHL. The organization plans to raise the funds through public-private partnerships if it gets an agreement for the center finalized.
As for potential conflicts with the Reno Ice project that’s pushing for a state-of-the-art ice sports arena in south Reno, the Reno Puck Club says the projects could benefit each other. Both could work together on developing youth hockey programs and the Reno Ice arena could serve as a practice facility for the professional hockey team when the Reno Events Center is booked for other engagements. Reno Puck Club says it also will donate a portion of ticket sales to Reno Ice.
The company, however, is providing a tight deadline for inking a potential agreement, at least if it’s going to have a chance to get a hockey team in Reno in time for the 2017 season. Reno Puck Club says it needs to start negotiations before Sept.14 and have guarantees for a signed agreement by Oct. 14 for it to submit expansion approval to the ECHL by Sept. 27.
Following a vote on Thursday, the Reno Puck Club is negotiating a transfer of management from the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.