The American Hockey League (AHL) has awarded a Palm Springs expansion franchise to NHL Seattle and Oak View Group (OVG), with plans for a 2021 launch.
Competing as the AHL’s 32nd team, Palm Springs will be the primary affiliate of an upcoming NHL Seattle expansion franchise. Both clubs will launch for the 2021-22 season in their respective leagues, as the NHL approved Seattle’s expansion bid last December and the AHL announced Monday that its Board of Governors has signed off on the upcoming Palm Springs franchise.
“On behalf of the AHL’s Board of Governors, I am thrilled to welcome the NHL Seattle and OVG ownership teams and the city of Palm Springs as the league’s 32nd franchise,” AHL President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews said in a press statement. “Palm Springs has all the makings of an outstanding hockey market, and will further strengthen the growing base of our sport in California.”
The Palm Springs AHL expansion team will play its games at a new, $250 million privately financed arena (renderings above). The arena will be built as part of a partnership between OVG and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and will be located on tribal land in downtown Palm Springs. AHL action will be just one part of the events slate at the arena, with concerts and other sports expected to be in the mix. More from The Desert Sun:
“We were very fortunate with the Agua Caliente Tribe that they jumped in and became partners, and we were very fortunate that the piece of land we found is as good of place to build an arena as you could possibly find because the mix here is,” Oak View Group (OVG) chief executive Tim Leiweke told The Desert Sun. “Yes the sports team has to work, but it’s the other events that drive the economics and make it work. We have to have about 30 to 50 big events a year here music and other sports in order to make economic sense out of this.”…
AHL Palm Springs also launched a ticket drive for season ticket deposits Monday. Season ticket deposits are available on Ticketmaster. Deposits are $100 for general seats and $250 for club seats.
Prior to the news conference, Tim Leiweke said that today’s announcement is the culmination of years of hard work and that the concept of Palm Springs being the home of this AHL team was in the works from the beginning, even back to the early stages as they were trying to secure the Seattle pro franchise.
“We always had a bit of an eye toward Palm Springs,” Tim Leiweke said. “Even at the beginning of the project, we were looking down here and thought: One, an amazing point of destination market place and two, a market place that for 30 years has been trying to find a sports team, and three, from a transportation standpoint and affordability standpoint and the ability to convince players and staff that they have to move here. This is a pretty good place to ultimately build a franchise.”
Palm Springs will be the AHL’s sixth franchise in California. Although the AHL’s announcement did not specify which division Palm Springs will play in, all current California-based teams compete in the Pacific Division. The Palm Springs arena is expected to open in September 2021.
Renderings via AHLPalmSprings.com.
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