Monday, 30 September 2019

SoCal Gets Another

Back in May, there was some debate on whether the new Seattle NHL franchise would set up its AHL affiliate in one of Boise, Idaho or Palm Springs, California. As I wrote back then, Boise seemed like a smart choice based on the successful of its ECHL franchise, but Palm Springs looked like a more obvious choice considering how close it was to other AHL cities. It seems the AHL thought the latter was a better idea in terms of fostering rivalries and building the AHL's presence in California as Palm Springs was named as Seattle's AHL affiliate and the 32nd AHL city today.

"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," American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews announced today. "Palm Springs has all the makings of an outstanding hockey market, and will further strengthen the growing base of our sport in California."

As I stated back in the May article, the Palm Springs team would be within "150 miles of all of Ontario, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Diego," so road trips to the AHL's Pacific Division get a little easier for teams who may need to play back-to-back games or three-in-three weekends. Had the team been setup in Boise, there would have been some travel involved if the road trip involved Colorado Springs and Tuscon. With Palm Springs in the fold, the travel between San Diego, Ontario, and Palm Springs is a couple of hours at most.

The other amenity that Seattle will take advantage of is the brand-new arena that is being built that will be ready to host events in 2021. With the NHL and AHL teams beginning play in 2021, this works out nicely for all involved. The 12,000-seat multi-use stadium I mentioned in my article in May is now off the table as Oak View Group has proposed a 10,000-seat hockey arena that would be built partly underground on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians land in order to keep the views of the mountains intact for surrounding residents and businesses. According to this Desert Sun article by Melissa Daniels, the new arena will be located on the "corner of Amado Road and North Calle Encilia".

"We heard that time and time again with everyone, that they wanted to protect the views of the mountains, as did we," Tim Leiweke of Oak View Group told Daniels. "We also didn't want to overwhelm the neighborhood. We didn't want to overwhelm Agua Caliente, or the business community."

With everything falling into place, this seems like a no-brainer decision for the AHL. I can see more league meetings being held in Palm Springs now that they have a foothold in the community, and what hockey executive would decline a trip to Palm Springs in the winter for a few days?

The only thing left to do? Name the team. Keep your eyes peeled for that opportunity!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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