Luckily, that replacement might just be 50 miles up the road in Loveland, CO.
The Colorado Eagles are fresh off from winning their first Kelly Cup in a 4-0 series sweep of the South Carolina Stingarays. It’s their first championship in the ECHL, previously winning 2 Ray Miron President Cups in 2005 and 2007 in the former Central Hockey League.
It’s not set in stone, but the stars are aligning for the Eagles to be the new Single-A affiliate for the Avalanche. According to president and general manager of the Colorado Eagles Chris Stewart,
“There have been some discussions. Obviously, the proximity and logistics, there’s a lot of sense for an affiliation that could possibly take us to the American Hockey League. I can’t confirm anything at this point, by any means, because there are way too many moving parts.”
A move from the ECHL to the AHL would do wonders for the Eagles and the Northern Colorado community. The Avalanche may have been an integral part in bringing hockey fan-ship to Colorado, but the Eagles have certainly started their own fan following in the north part of the state.
The Eagles ranked 8th in average team attendance for the 16/17 season at 4,751. That number may not jump out at you as a team with a big fan base. However, Budweiser Event Center, home of the Eagles, only holds roughly 5,300 hockey seats. So taking the attendance as a percentage of capacity, the Eagles are near the top. 2nd in fact at 89.8%. Who’s in first? Toledo Walleye out of Ohio at a whopping 95.2%.
The capacity of the Budweiser Event Center has been a topic of discussion in recent months. Chris Stewart again,
“I don’t believe that the AHL would accept the building as it sits today. I’m not just talking about seats. The facility in general, the locker rooms, I do think there would have to be some mitigation done to the building to help facilitate an American Hockey League franchise if we went in that direction.”
If the Eagles are indeed chosen to be the next expansion team and the Colorado Avalanche AHL affiliate, it would energize an already electrifying fan base in the Northern Colorado area. Pending any unfavorable surprises, we’re well on our way to seeing an AHL patch on those Colorado Eagles sweaters.