Reported talks center around pro hockey in Tucson - Tucson News Now

Reported talks center around pro hockey in Tucson

There have reportedly been talks about bringing a minor-league hockey team to the Tucson Convention Center. (Source: KOLD News 13) There have reportedly been talks about bringing a minor-league hockey team to the Tucson Convention Center. (Source: KOLD News 13)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Professional hockey could make a comeback in Tucson. 

There have reportedly been talks about bringing a team to the Tucson Convention Center, but some people privy to those talks said it's far from a done deal. 

If a deal is made, an Arizona Coyotes farm team would be moved to Tucson.

The NHL Coyotes franchise plays its home games in Glendale. 

But for professional hockey to come to Tucson, a series of barriers must be overcome, and it needs to happen before the hockey season begins in October.

The calendar could prove to be the biggest obstacle, because of the number of barriers. 

First and foremost, the Coyotes don't own their top farm team. 

They do have minor league affiliates, with their top club (AHL) being in Springfield, MA. Arizona is the only team in the NHL's Pacific Division that does not own its top minor-league club.

This is why the Coyotes would have to purchase a minor league franchise and move it to southern Arizona. 

Some have questioned whether the financial condition of the Phoenix franchise could support that. 

Secondly, the NHL would have to approve the TCC as an acceptable venue.

The NHL has not seen or visited the TCC at this point, so there is a question as to whether it would meet its standards.

However, the arena has recently undergone $8 million in upgrades, so it's thought it may pass that test. 

But if it needs costly upgrades or changes, that could fall on the city of Tucson, which has financial issues.

The TCC is owned by Rio Nuevo, but is leased to the city. 

Whether the city would approve of a deal to play professional hockey at the arena is another barrier which would need to be overcome.

There is also the question of whether the arena could provide up to 34 dates the minor league franchise may need for its home games.

The Chair of the TCC Commission, Rick Small, said he "doesn't see a problem with that."

But he brings up another question, which will make the road to a deal more difficult.

"They would also need ice for practices," he said. "I don't believe the TCC has the capability at the present time to keep ice down all the time."

There is little doubt the community could support a hockey franchise if the attendance of IceCats club hockey games is any indication. 

Over the years, between 3,000 and 5,000 fans at one of its games has not been unusual.

Another member told Tucson News Now that it would be great for youth hockey in Tucson, because it may bring with it a year-round practice facility which they could use instead of having to drive to Phoenix to practice. 

Small also added the commission would likely support a franchise agreement, because it would bring more people downtown, which will add to the revitalization of the urban core. 

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