“There was a great number of relocation opportunities presented to our team in recent months and while consideration of these was not our priority given our level of involvement in Omaha, in recent discussions it became evident to us that the Quad Cities market, The MARK of the Quad Cities venue, the enthusiastic local ownership group and their existing fan base are ideally suited for our AHL franchise,” noted Calgary Flames President & CEO Ken King.
“We would like to thank the fans in Omaha who supported our AHL team for the past two seasons and are especially appreciative of the tireless efforts of our staff in Omaha and the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation for their efforts to make the AHL a successful operation and valuable asset to the Omaha community.”
Ren Smith, President of Omaha Hockey Partnership and Ak-Sar-Ben Calgary Hockey Inc. added: “although our objective was to make AHL hockey viable in the Omaha market, it became evident in the face of mounting losses that it would be extremely difficult to move forward.” Smith added, “on behalf of all hockey fans in Omaha, we are disappointed with this outcome.”
The Quad Cities of Moline and Rock Island of Illinois and Davenport and Bettendorf of Iowa are a vibrant community located on the banks of the Mississippi River and on the Illinois/Iowa border - within 250 miles of five of their AHL rivals (the Rockford Ice Hogs, Peoria Rivermen, Chicago Wolves, Milwaukee Admirals and Iowa Stars).
The team will play their home games in Moline, Illinois at The MARK of the Quad Cities, one of the premier arenas found in the mid-west. Quad Cities was most recently home to the United Hockey League’s Quad City Mallards for the last 12 seasons; the Mallards led the UHL in attendance seven times during this period. During their tenure in the UHL, over 3 million hockey fans attended games at The MARK of the Quad Cities.
“We are very excited to welcome the Flames organization to the Quad Cities,” said QC Sports Ventures Inc. president Tim Taylor.
“The Calgary Flames organization has a tremendous track record and the American Hockey League represents a strong fit for this market. Our fans have been very loyal to our organization and we are honored to bring to them the American Hockey League.”
During the 2006-07 season, the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights were ranked best in the regular season in the AHL’s Western Division and Western Conference with a record of 49 wins, 25 losses, 5 overtime losses and 1 shoot-out loss.
The American Hockey League is the top professional developmental hockey league in the world; more than 83 percent of players who played in the NHL during the 2006-07 season were graduates of the AHL.
NHL stars such as past Vezina trophy winner Miikka Kirpusoff (Calgary Flames), Jason Spezza (Ottawa Senators), Martin Brodeur (New Jersey Devils) and Daniel Briere (Buffalo Sabres) are among hundreds of current NHL players who honed their skills in the AHL. This season marks the sixth consecutive year in which more than 6 million fans have attended AHL games across North America.