Sports Business

NHL Seattle and Oak View Group Awarded Expansion Franchise in California

The American Hockey League franchise will help develop players for Seattles new NHL team

By Bill Conroy September 30, 2019

Image Credit: iStock

The American Hockey League franchise will help develop players for Seattle’s new NHL team

NHL Seattle and the Oak View Group, the two companies leading the charge in bringing a new NHL franchise to Seattle and in redeveloping the New Arena at Seattle Center (formerly KeyArena), have been awarded an expansion franchise by the American Hockey League (AHL).

The new AHL franchise team will begin play in October 2021 in a new $250 million arena being constructed on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation in Palm Springs, California.

The new franchise is the AHL’s 32nd team and it will serve as the primary development affiliate of NHL Seattle, the owners of the new Seattle NHL hockey team slated to take the ice at the redeveloped New Arena at Seattle Center for the 2021-22 season. Oak View Group is leading the redevelopment of Seattle’s new hockey arena at Seattle Center as well as other arena development projects in New York, Texas and Italy. NHL Seattle also is developing a training center and headquarters at Northgate called the NHL Seattle Ice Centre.

The AHL, launched in 1936, is a top development league for the NHL, with 90% of today’s NHL players having played at the AHL level during their careers.

“Palm Springs is a great location and this is a top-notch facility for our players in the American Hockey League,” says General Manager Ron Francis, who oversees hockey operations for NHL Seattle and the new AHL franchise. “It gives us the opportunity to fully develop and train all of our prospects to reach the NHL while bringing hockey to another fantastic market.”

The new arena in Palm Springs is slated to break ground early next year and open in the fall of 2021.

“The new arena at Agua Caliente in Palm Springs … will be an unmatched venue in the Coachella Valley for both music and sport,” says Tim Leiweke, chief executive officer of Oak View Group. “We look forward to partnering with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and NHL Seattle on this project.”

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