Just two days after the National Hockey League hosted its annual Stadium Series game between the Colorado Avalanche and L.A. Kings on the base of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, rumors surfaced Monday evening of a potential relocation of an American Hockey League club to the Springs.
Some AHL-related news: Hearing Colorado Springs is in the process of securing an AHL franchise via relocation of a current club. It’s possible they could play out of the Broadmoor World Arena, which holds 7,750 for hockey. Timeline unclear, but could happen for Fall 2021 or 2022.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) February 17, 2020
The immediate thought by many was that the state’s beloved Colorado Eagles would be the ones on the move. However, after reaching out to a source close to the situation, they confirmed with me that it is not the Eagles that are moving, rather, the second-year AHL club will be getting a new in-state rival in the coming seasons.
David Pagnotta, also confirmed this fact later.
Correct, the Eagles aren’t going anywhere. In fact, there have been talks of expanding the Budweiser Events Center or building a new arena near/next to current rink. https://t.co/tWYNapMNi5— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) February 17, 2020
The likeliest AHL team to make the move is the Stockton Heat, which aligns with the rumors swirling on Twitter at the moment.
The Heat are having a great year so far in Stockton. Currently at 28-13-6 on the season, the Heat are second place in the Pacific Division, the same division Colorado currently resides in, too. The issue is the market around that area of Stockton, California — or lack thereof.
According to HockeyDB.com, Stockton has the lowest average attendance in the American League this season at 2,798 per game, down from the 3,690 attendance number of last season.
Here’s a brief video of the Eagles most recent trip to Stockton that details the lack of attendance:
Warmups are underway in Stockton!#EaglesCountry pic.twitter.com/wIaCh8CNYt— Colorado Eagles (@ColoradoEagles) January 6, 2019
There are many I’s to dot and T’s to cross before this happens. Whichever team makes the move, whether it’s Stockton or not, would be playing at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs — which is an Olympic-sized hockey rink — meaning the dimensions are 98.4 feet wide by 197 feet long. The rink would have to be changed in order to adhere to the American Hockey League’s rink size restriction as stated in the official rulebook.
1.2 Dimensions - The official size of the rink shall be two hundred feet (200’) long and eighty-five feet (85’) wide. The corners shall be rounded in the arc of a circle with a radius of twenty-eight feet (28’). — AHL Rulebook
The relocation of the San Antonio Rampage to the Vegas area and the addition of the new Seattle NHL-affiliated Palm Springs AHL team presents an issue with divisional alignment.
Every AHL division has eight teams except for the Pacific Division. Geographically, it would make the most sense for San Antonio (Vegas) to move to the Pacific, as would the new Palm Springs team. That would then make eight teams in the Pacific if you move Colorado to the Central.
Travel cost, money and logistics are very much factored in to these decisions by the AHL. It’s the reason why the Pacific Division plays fewer games than the rest of the divisions. Teams in the Pacific are more geographically spread out and further apart from each other. The cost and expenses associated with traveling were too much, so the league eliminated a handful of games from the Pacific’s schedule to save its teams money.
This will certainly be factored into the new realignment, especially if there will be two teams in the state of Colorado.