FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, May 19, 2016
GLENDALE, ARIZONA --- Arizona Coyotes’ President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc announced today that the Club will move its American Hockey League (AHL) franchise to Tucson, Arizona for the start of the 2016-17 AHL season. The AHL’s Board of Governors approved the sale of the Springfield Falcons AHL franchise to the Coyotes on May 10; Tucson City Council approved a 10-year arena lease agreement between the Coyotes and the Tucson Convention Center (TCC) on May 17; and the Coyotes closed on the purchase of the franchise on May 18. The Coyotes’ AHL affiliate will play its home games at the TCC beginning in October.
|John Chayka, Anthony LeBlanc, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Dave Tippett in Tucson on Thursday. Photo by Norm Hall. |
The Coyotes’ top farm team will play in the AHL’s Pacific Division. In 2015-16, the Pacific Division featured the AHL affiliates of the Anaheim Ducks (San Diego Gulls), Calgary Flames (Stockton Heat), Colorado Avalanche (San Antonio Rampage), Dallas Stars (Texas Stars), Edmonton Oilers (Bakersfield Condors), Los Angeles Kings (Ontario Reign) and San Jose Sharks (San Jose Barracuda).
“We are absolutely thrilled to relocate our AHL team to Tucson,” said Coyotes’ President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc. “The Coyotes were part of the initial discussion to form a Pacific Division in the AHL but we were unable to secure a franchise prior to last season. We are extremely excited and proud to bring AHL hockey to a first class city like Tucson. This further proves that the Coyotes ownership group is committed to Arizona and to growing the Coyotes brand and the great game of hockey in our state.”
The relocation of the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate to Tucson allows the team to further extend its brand within the state and provides an opportunity for operational synergy between the two professional hockey teams. It also provides advantages both on and off the ice for the Coyotes organization such as savings on travel, cross-promotion, and marketing of players as they develop into future NHL stars while playing in the top developmental hockey league in North America.
“Owning and operating our own AHL franchise will be a game changer for our organization,” said Coyotes’ General Manager John Chayka. “Having our top prospects so close to the Valley will allow us to more closely monitor our players and have a greater role in their development. Playing in the AHL’s Pacific Division will provide our prospects with an exceptional environment for growth. This is an ideal situation for us.”
On May 17, The Coyotes launched a “Name the Team” contest for the Club’s AHL affiliate in Tucson. Fans interested in submitting names for the team are encouraged to post their suggestions on the Coyotes’ website, www.arizonacoyotes.com/nameourAHLteam. Fans who submit the winning name will be entered into a grand prize drawing to win two (2) season tickets for the Tucson team’s 2016-17 AHL regular season, a Tucson team jersey and a 12-person suite to a 2016-17 Arizona Coyotes regular season home game. The contest will run from May 17 through midnight on May 31.
“This will be a very positive situation for us,” said Coyotes’ EVP of Hockey Operations/Head Coach Dave Tippett. “We want to move this organization ahead and in that respect, other Pacific Division teams were all ahead of us. Now we’ll be on the same playing field. To have our top prospects so close where we can keep track of them and watch their games every night, it’s a huge benefit that we didn’t have before.”
|Anthony LeBlanc, John Chayka and Dave Tippett. Photo by Norm Hall. |
With the AHL coming to the Tucson Convention Center this fall, Tucson will play host to the highest caliber of hockey in the history of the city. Founded in 1936 and now with franchises in 30 cities across North America, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 15th year in a row, more than 6 million fans have attended AHL games in 2015-16.
“On behalf of our other 29 teams across North America, I would like to welcome the fans of Tucson to the American Hockey League family,” said David Andrews, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer. “The Arizona Coyotes organization continues to show terrific commitment to growing and developing our sport throughout the state, and we are excited to now be a part of those efforts.”
The City of Tucson had several minor league hockey franchises over the years including the Tucson Mavericks of the Central Hockey League (1975-76), the Tucson Icemen of the Southwest Hockey League (1976-77), the Tucson Rustlers of the Professional Hockey League (1978-79), and the Tucson Gila Monsters of the West Coast Hockey League (1997-99).
“The Coyotes are a good match for the TCC Arena,” said City of Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “I know I join many Tucsonans in looking forward to their first home game.”
The Coyotes previous AHL affiliates were the Springfield Falcons (2015-16), Portland Pirates (2011-14), San Antonio Rampage (2005-11), Utah Grizzlies (2004-05) and Springfield Falcons (1996-2004).
For ticket information regarding the Coyotes Tucson AHL affiliate, please visit arizonacoyotes.com/ahl or call 866-415-4695. Fans can also email ticket representatives at firstname.lastname@example.org.