On June 26, 2019, it was reported that the ownership of the upcoming Seattle NHL team had chosen Palm Springs as the site for Seattle’s AHL affiliate and that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and Oak View Group (OVG) had teamed up to build an arena on tribal-owned land as the home for their proposed expansion hockey team.
Palm Springs AHL Team Welcomes Hockey to the Desert
The 10,000 seat arena is estimated to cost $250 million. OVG CEO Tim Leiweke used a study done by the SoCal Coyotes on the future of sports events and tourism in the Coachella Valley as proof of the viability of a multi-purpose venue in Palm Springs. The arena is expected to break ground by February of 2020. The Arena is projected to be completed in time for the 2021-22 AHL season.
Live Nation Entertainment also has signed on as a strategic partner with the project. They will “supply the new arena with a large stable of top touring artists and premium live events,” according to a news release.
The economic boost just building the new arena will be a shot in the arm for the local area. Adding to the pluses of having the new facility, after completion of the arena more workers will be needed to run the arena.
(Photo courtesy of: Bala Sivakumar/City of Palm Springs, Ca.)
I have ventured to Palm Springs on multiple occasions. I wanted to see how the local residents felt about an AHL hockey team coming to their community. While there, I usually stay at the wonderful Old Ranch Inn which is located near the new proposed arena.
The owners of the Old Ranch Inn are Tim and Gwynn Demakis. They are very hospitable hosts for your visit. The former manager, Rosie Castleberry is no longer there. Above all, your visits will still be delightful as well as memorable.
Palm Springs Residents Are Excited to Get a Hockey Team
Tim Demakis is originally from the Boston area and a fan of the Boston Bruins. He thinks that minor league hockey will do very well in the growing Coachella Valley. Oak View Chief Executive Tim Leiweke said he expected the Palm Springs team to draw 8,500 to 10,000 fans a game. That would put them amongst the top drawing AHL teams.
The San Diego Gulls led the 31-team American Hockey League in attendance last season, with an average crowd of 9,021, and the Ontario Reign (affiliated with the NHL Los Angeles Kings) ranked fourth at 8,352. Teams in Bakersfield (5,034), Stockton (3,690) and San Jose (3,680) did not draw nearly as well. Certainly, the addition of another AHL team will round out the league to a more conducive 32-team alignment.
The new NHL Seattle team is becoming a reality. It seems logical that the Los Angeles Kings and the new Seattle team may become instant rivals. The same could hold true for the Ontario Reign and the Palm Springs Firebirds. The proposed team name ‘Firebirds’ has been trademarked and a filing for Palm Springs Firebirds was made by the Los Angeles-based legal firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher on August 9th, 2019.
Other team names are also being considered including ‘Hawks’, and ‘Eagles’. The name of the team in Palm Springs is not really a big deal. They will welcome their new hockey team with open arms.