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Tucson Excited to Welcome AHL Team

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
TUCSON -- The Coyotes' affiliate in the American Hockey League will play its home games at the Tucson Convention Center, which seats about 6,700 fans for hockey.


Tucson Convention Center. Photo by Norm Hall.
The City of Tucson is thrilled to have a new anchor tenant at the recently renovated facility.

"This agreement with the Coyotes is a good deal all the way around," Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said at a press conference on Thursday. "It's good for the Coyotes, good for the City and good for the TCC. The city's interests are protected, which is important to me, to the City Manager and to my colleagues on the city council. The TCC Arena is a perfect venue for AHL hockey and ... hockey at the TCC Arena is the kind of event that fits right in with our revitalized downtown."

According to the Arizona Daily Star, the City has projected a $7 million economic impact to downtown Tucson if the AHL team can sell out its 34 home games in 2016-17. That's a lofty goal, but even if the team can just match the league average attendance per game the economic impact would be significant.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. Photo by Norm Hall.
"People are going to come down here, they're going to eat dinner here, they're going to go to the restaurants and to the bars," Rothschild said. "This is a real good move for the City of Tucson, and I think you will see people spending money as a result."

The City of Tucson has hosted 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).

“There’s no way Tucson doesn’t make sense,” Coyotes President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said regarding moving the AHL team from Springfield, Mass., to Tucson. “It’s a great market with a large population of a million people, and it’s the largest market in the U.S. that doesn’t have a pro or semipro (sports) organization."

Tucson last hosted a pro team three years ago when it was home to the Tucson Padres, the Triple-A baseball club for the San Diego Padres. That team departed Tucson for El Paso, Texas, in 2013.

Ticket prices for the AHL games at the TCC Arena will average about $15 per game, and range from $10 to $40 per game.

“We want to keep ticket prices at or below league (AHL) average,” LeBlanc said. “...Our research has indicated that hockey will be successful in Tucson. In fact, we think it will thrive.”

The Coyotes have had an affiliate in the AHL since moving to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996. The team's previous AHL affiliates were: Springfield Falcons (2015-16), Portland Pirates (2011-14), San Antonio Rampage (2005-11), Utah Grizzlies (2004-05) and Springfield Falcons (1996-2004).
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