On Friday, a milestone for hockey in Tucson will take place, as the Tucson Roadrunners play their first game at Tucson Arena.
The Roadrunners are an intriguing addition to the AHL. Purchased by the Arizona Coyotes this spring, the franchise formerly known as the Springfield Falcons is making the move out west. In doing so, the Roadrunners become the latest result of an AHL-wide trend of NHL franchises–particularly those on the west coast–moving their affiliates closer to their base of operations.
Early reception to the Roadrunners, who are 2-1 through their first three games, has been positive. However, team president Bob Hoffman, believes that the Roadrunners will have room to grow over the next few seasons. More from Tuscon.com:
This isn’t a Ma and Pa operation; the business side of the Roadrunners lists 13 sales/tickets employees and a front-office staff of 20.
“I’m optimistic, believing we can draw an average of 4,000 fans — and if it ends up 3,500, fine,” says Hoffman. “Response from the community has been positive. As the years go on, in years 2, 3, 4 and beyond, as we get to know Tucson and it gets to know us, I think it’ll grow.”
The Roadrunners are filling a void of professional hockey at Tucson Arena, which is part of the Tucson Convention Center. Prior to their arrival, the last professional club to have taken the ice at Tucson Arena was the Tucson Gila Monsters, who played in the West Coast Hockey League from 1997-1999.
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