An agreement to sell the Florida Everblades (ECHL) and Hertz Arena is in place, with the Hoffmann Family of Companies set to purchase the team and its facility.
The Hoffmanns are planning to make a variety of improvements to Hertz Arena, including enhanced skyboxes, food services, and the installation of a state-of-the-art scoreboard. Details of the agreement were announced on Monday.
Hertz Arena, originally called Everblades Arena which opened in 1998, hosts a variety of events including concerts, Cirque du Soleil, Disney on Ice, boxing, trade shows, among many others. The venue offers 25 suites, two additional ice rinks, a private club and a restaurant overlooking the arena seating bowl, Breakaway Sports Pub. The arena is also home to the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles club hockey team of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).
“We are optimistic that all of the 330 employees will remain with the Hoffmann Family of Companies,” said Craig Brush, the Florida Everblades President and General Manager who signed a five-year contract and has a commitment from all his senior staff to remain in place. “We are thrilled to be acquired by such a prestigious company. Our partnership with the Hertz Corporation and now this new ownership ensures that Hertz Arena will maintain our strong community presence and continue to be the number one choice for entertainment in Southwest Florida.”
The team and the arena were previously owned by Peter Karmanos, founder of Compuware Corporation and prior majority owner of the Carolina Hurricanes in the National Hockey League.
“Simply put, without Peter Karmanos, there would be no Hertz Arena,” Brush added. “I speak for everyone in the organization in wishing Pete continued success in all his business ventures and would like to thank him for all his support and guidance over the past 21 years.”
The Hoffmanns, who own the minority of stake in the Kane County Cougars Class A professional baseball team, have been in search of a professional hockey or soccer franchise for the past several years.
“The team and the arena have been run well and provide much excitement for their loyal fan base for hockey as well as a myriad of special events,” said David Hoffmann. “We plan to bring more events and entertainment to Southwest Florida. We have had preliminary discussions with the FGCUs sports promotion executives to host a nationally televised basketball tournament or major programs, and entertainment executives to bring more headlining musicians and events to the area. The response we have received makes us very optimistic.”
The purchase dovetails very well with other hospitality businesses the Hoffmanns have purchased in Southwest Florida. The Hoffmanns are the largest owners of commercial real estate in Naples and have purchased a dozen operating businesses that employ more than 1,000 people in Southwest Florida. The Hoffmanns recently announced a partnership with Kelly and Aldo Musico and Paul Fleming to expand Tacos & Tequila Cantina restaurants nationally.