Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold has not been shy in voicing his support for a new arena in downtown Racine. That was once again evident during a recent public appearance in which Leipold offered some details as to how he could be involved in the project.
Racine County and the City of Racine have been working on a concept that calls for a new arena with an adjacent hotel. Originally explored as a venue for a prospective Milwaukee Bucks D-League team, the arena is now be considered as a potential host to a minor league hockey squad from the USHL.
Leipold has previously stated that he would work to bring the USHL team to Racine. During an appearance at Carthage College on Monday, Leipold responded to a question as to how he would be involved in the project.
Though he does not foresee being involved in the arena’s financing, Leipold was clear in his desire to own the USHL franchise. More from the Journal Times:
Leipold, who divides his time between Racine and Minneapolis, spoke at Carthage Monday as part of the college’s Industry Insider speaker series. While he clarified that he wouldn’t help fund the proposed $46 million arena-hotel, he did reaffirm his commitment to bringing a United States Hockey League team to Racine if the project goes forward.
“If the arena is built, I have committed to putting a USHL hockey team in that arena,” he said. “We’d love to have an arena in Racine.”
Leipold has owned the Wild since 2009 and previously owned the Nashville Predators. After Monday’s speech, he clarified that bringing a USHL hockey team (a minor league that features players under 20 years old) to Racine likely means he would own the team in some capacity.
“I would like to be the owner of the team and I would have every belief that I would probably own the team,” Leipold said.
Officials in Racine have been trying to figure out how fund the plan. As it stands, the status of the Bucks D-League team is a key part of the equation. In bidding for that franchise, Racine is in direct competition with Sheboygan and Oshkosh.
Sheboygan is pitching a renovation to the Sheboygan Armory, while Oshkosh is exploring concepts that involve a privately-funded project. It remains to be seen if Racine’s arena plan and subsequent USHL bid is directly affected by the Bucks, but the team’s decision is expected to come sooner rather than later.
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