Proposed New Arena In Palm Springs Could Host NHL Seattle Farm Team
The expansion NHL Seattle franchise and Oak View Group have "submitted an application for a minor league NHL team, which if approved, would play" in a new downtown arena in Palm Springs, Calif., by fall '21, according to a front-page piece by Newell & Johnson of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. The proposed 300,000-square-foot arena "will be built on 16 acres of tribal land and include roughly 10,000 seats." An adjoining facility "will be built alongside it for use as a community gathering space and training center for a minor league hockey team." Live Nation Entertainment also has "signed on as a strategic partner with the project." Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Tribal Chair Jeff Grubbe said that the arena "will be privately funded ... exclusively by the tribe" and OVG. Grubbe said that he "doesn't have details on what the arena would look like yet, and not to expect renderings anytime soon." However, he did note that the arena would be "state of the art and would fit in with the overall look of downtown Palm Springs." Groundbreaking and construction is "scheduled to begin" in February '20, with the arena "expected to open" by fall '21 in time for the hockey season (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 6/27).
BEST CHOICE FOR SUCCESS: OVG CEO Tim Leiweke said that the new arena "will be the most expensive ever built as an AHL-specific venue," with a projected cost of $250M. Meanwhile, in Seattle, Geoff Baker notes NHL Seattle had also "looked at the possibility of acquiring and relocating an existing AHL team but will instead look to start up a brand-new one if the AHL approves the application." The most recent AHL expansion franchises sold in the $5M range. NHL Seattle President & CEO Tod Leiweke said that his group had "worked together on the application 'in consultation' with AHL officials to 'best position the application.'" He "anticipates the potential for a strong rivalry between the new club and the Ontario Reign, which are only 70 miles away while the San Diego Gulls franchise is just 140 miles away" (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/27).