STOCKTON, Calif. – Stockton is celebrating 15 years of minor league hockey this season, split between the ECHL’s Thunder and AHL’s Heat. And, after reaching an agreement to keep the Heat in Stockton through next season, one would think the celebration would continue into year number 16, as well.
However, after much uncertainty about the future of the franchise coming into the 2019-20 season, news is starting to ramp up yet again about the team relocating.
Some AHL-related news: Hearing Colorado Springs is in the process of securing an AHL franchise via relocation of a current club. It’s possible they could play out of the Broadmoor World Arena, which holds 7,750 for hockey. Timeline unclear, but could happen for Fall 2021 or 2022.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) February 17, 2020
Even though the “current club” was not identified, many signs point to the Heat preparing to uproot and plant stakes in Colorado.
Stockton’s local Fox affiliate reported on February 14 that an agreement has been reached between the team and the city which extends through the 2020-21 season. However, the same report also stated that Stockton Economic Developer Carrie Wright proclaimed there would be a “cost savings” should the team choose not to renew with the city.
Rumblings started about the Flames looking elsewhere to move the club in October 2019 when The Record published an article raising questions about the status between the city and the team. With the Heat’s average attendance dwindling by almost 40 percent over their five years in Stockton, the reasons to relocate continue to gain momentum and carry more credence with the Calgary Flames organization.
SPRINGING ON AN OPPORTUNITY?
The market rumored for relocation (Colorado Springs, Colorado) has been in Calgary’s cross-hairs since October when rumors began swirling in the local Stockton media.
This ties back to our report from October re: #Flames looking at the Springs. From what we've heard, CGY ownership pushing in this direction, with a short term bridge deal in Stockton. Good timing too, as Colorado College (current arena tennant) broke ground Sat on new building. https://t.co/ipAbzGeEsV
— The Mayor (@mayorNHL) February 17, 2020
The Robson Arena breaking ground on Saturday and a completion date set in the Fall of 2021, the Broadmoor World Arena would be vacant regarding a primary hockey tenant. Although a reconfiguration from the International-sized rink would be necessary, the venue could very well house an American Hockey League franchise based on size alone. The World Arena’s hockey capacity of 7,750 would be larger than seven current AHL arenas.
Colorado Springs has been on The Sin Bin’s radar regarding a minor league hockey franchise for over a year and a half, with the Springs being dubbed the “most desirable” market to host an ECHL team over the likes of Reno, NV; Billings, MT; Albuquerque, NM; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma back in August 2018. A built-in rivalry with the nearby Colorado Eagles could help fan the flames of success in the Pike’s Peak region of The Centennial State.
Even though nothing official has been announced as of yet, the fact that two Pro Hockey Writer’s Association (PHWA) journalists are corroborating these details gives major weight to what’s being said. Stayed tuned to The Sin Bin for details on this developing story.
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