ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna recently stated that the league is looking to expand, and hopes to be at 30 teams within the next few seasons.
For the 2016-17 season, the circuit is playing at 27 teams. The Worcester Railers HC are slated to join the ECHL for 2017-18, playing their games out of the DCU Center.
Beyond that plan, there are a number of variables to consider. The Evansville IceMen were to sit out this season before being reestablished next season in Owensboro, KY. However, plans for that market have been scrapped due to arena issues, and the franchise is in limbo for now.
McKenna says that the league has some goals relating to expansion, including the possibility of 30 teams by the start of the 2018-19. He addressed the question during a recent visit to the Quad City Mallards‘ I Wireless Center. More from the Quad-City Times:
The stability of the league itself is continuing to strengthen, even as the league continues to tweak things in its development. League attendance is up slightly from this point last year, and the ECHL hopes to continue to grow, with the addition of a team in Worcester, Massachusetts next year, as well as hopefully another team as the franchise originally intended for Owensboro, Kentucky attempts to relocate.
McKenna said the league hopes to add a 30th team, possibly as early as the 2018-19 season.
Certain markets have been connected to the ECHL at various points this year, including Reno, and Portland (ME). Portland, however, recently revealed that it is unlikely to have a plan in place by the ECHL’s meetings in January to be considered for entry next season.