Officials in Portland, ME are set to review a series of proposals that could lead to an ECHL franchise at Cross Insurance Arena.
There has been discussion in Portland about attracting a new minor league hockey franchise since last year. In May 2016, the AHL’s Portland Pirates announced that they were leaving Portland in favor of Springfield, MA, where they have played this season as the Springfield Thunderbirds.
More information could come to light over the coming weeks. The Cross Insurance Arena board of trustees previously issued a request for proposal (RFP), and is now expected to review four bids that center around bringing the ECHL to Portland. Officials, including Joe Gray, who serves as the chair of the board’s strategic development committee, state that the 2018-19 season might be the most realistic timeline for joining the league. More from The Portland Press Herald:
Much of the talk since the Pirates left town has been centered on an ECHL franchise – and now it’s clear there will be no ECHL franchise in Portland until at least the 2018-19 season.
Headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey, the ECHL already is working on its 2017-18 schedule and league spokesman Joe Babik said via email that “there will be no other additions other than Worcester and Jacksonville.”
The Worcester (Mass.) Railers are an expansion franchise. The Jacksonville Icemen relocated from Evansville, Indiana. The Alaska Aces, members of the ECHL for 15 years, will be in what Babik termed “voluntary suspension” for the 2017-18 season after announcing Feb. 23 it was no longer economically sustainable for the franchise to operate in Anchorage.
Gray said his committee will examine the professional background of any potential ownership group along with community involvement and financial strength. Securing a lease agreement would be required of any group seeking to land an ECHL franchise, whether through relocation or expansion.
The strategic development committee is expected to discuss the proposal in an executive session on Monday. A recommendation to the full board could be made on March 8, according to the AP.
RELATED STORIES: ECHL to Portland Doubtful for 2017; Investor Pulls Out of Portland’s ECHL Pursuit; New Investor Possible at Portland Mulls Options; Investors: We WIll Bring ECHL to Portland; New for 2016: Springfield Thunderbirds; Pirates planning move to Springfield