As the NHL prepares to officially open up business in Seattle, the AHL has announced that it is set to put down some roots in Palm Springs.
On Monday, mere months after the Seattle franchise’s intentions to locate its minor-league affiliate in California became clear, the AHL announced that the league’s Board of Governors has awarded an expansion team to Palm Springs. The AHL’s newest franchise, which will hit the ice in 2021 and see its inaugural campaign coincide with that of its NHL parent club, will play out of a new $250-million, 10,000-seat downtown arena at Agua Caliente that is slated to open its doors in September 2021. Plans have also been laid out for a training center for the AHL team.
“On behalf of the AHL’s Board of Governors, I am thrilled to welcome the NHL Seattle and OVG (Oak View Group) ownership teams and the city of Palm Springs as the league’s 32nd franchise,” said AHL president and CEO David Andrews. “Palm Springs has all the makings of an outstanding hockey market, and will further strengthen the growing base of our sport in California.”
In speaking to media Monday, NHL Seattle president and CEO Tod Leiweke said getting the AHL team right was “mission critical,” calling it the proving ground for future players and coaches for NHL Seattle. The goal isn’t simply to put the team in place and utilize it as a place to store their up-and-comers, though. Rather, the idea is to utilize the farm team as a place for the next generation to grow, and the goal is for the AHL club to achieve its own on-ice successes. “Ultimately, we’re going to bring a Calder Cup here,” Leiweke said.