Palm Springs Arena To Be Built Into Ground, Keeping Surrounding Views
The new arena in Palm Springs, Calif., that will house an AHL expansion team beginning in the '21 season will be "largely built underground, an announcement that elicited a sigh of relief among residents who worried the 10,000-seat structure would obscure the city's majestic mountain views," according to Melissa Daniels of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. Renderings of the arena released yesterday "show a modern two-story structure with wood and large windows sitting on a large plaza." The facility will be located on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians land. Oak View Group co-Founder & CEO Tim Leiweke, whose company is partnering with the tribe on the $250M project, said that it "costs 'a bit of a premium' to sink the building and protect the sightlines, but it was central to the planning process." Leiweke said, "We heard that time and time again with everyone, that they wanted to protect the views of the mountains, as did we. We also didn't want to overwhelm the neighborhood." Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon said, "This is not going to block a lot of mountain views. And it's not going to be a problem for people who live near it." Daniels notes the facility is "slated to open" in September '21 for the start of the hockey season. Leiweke said "naming rights and sponsorship are going to be very critical" and conversations are underway. He added that there are "no plans for 'massive parking garages,' but that studies are in the works to find parking and transportation solutions" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 10/1).
GROWTH GAME: NHL Seattle President & CEO Tod Leiweke said that "getting the AHL team right was 'mission critical,' calling it the proving ground for future players and coaches" within the organization. THE HOCKEY NEWS' Jared Clinton noted in putting the team in Palm Springs, the AHL will see its presence in California "expand to include a sixth team and the introduction of a new team" in-state will also "see the growth of the Pacific Division completed." The location of the Palm Springs franchise is "noteworthy in its relative proximity to Seattle." In recent years, there has been an "increased drive by NHL organizations to locate their AHL affiliates closer to the big-league city" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 9/30).
WORKING OUT THE DETAILS: In Palm Springs, Newell, Powers, Daniels & John in a front-page piece note OVG so far has "filed paperwork to trademark several potential names, including the Firebirds, Sun, Dragons, Falcons, Hawks and Eagles." No announcement was made yesterday on the team's "official name" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 10/1). In Seattle, Geoff Baker notes Tod Leiweke "suggested part of the NHL team's training camp could take place in Palm Springs" if GM Ron Francis -- who will "lead hockey operations for both teams -- feels it will work." He said that the destination is "already popular as a vacation and second-home spot for Seattle residents and envisions many making the trip to see the NHL team's prospects in action" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/1).