“It’s a well-oiled machine. I haven’t seen a team in the league that has done it as well as they have, and we have benefited greatly from the relationship. They are part of our community, of our family.
Making their AHL debut a year after the reign, the Tucson Roadrunners, based on another non-traditional hockey market, also saw a local vibe created through the ice.
“Hockey brings energy to our downtown on game night,” said Dan Gibson, senior communications director for Visit Tucson. “There are people everywhere with hockey jerseys, and it was visible from the start. On the surface there are more hockey fans than I think.
The Roadrunners, a Phoenix Coyotes minor league affiliate related to the Reign, have garnered interest and support through relationship building on the pitch. “The team connected to the whole community,” says Gibson. “Before the games, the mascot is in town. They organized a lot of events to increase season ticket sales, and for the first few years they handed out tickets left and right. Since we are not a place with rinks everywhere, they connected to the youth market by building street hockey rinks.
The Roadrunners have also scored points thanks to demographic diversity, as half of Tucson’s population is Latino. “[The team has] does a really good job reaching out to the Hispanic community, ”Gibson says. “They created an alternative jersey, which is directly intended to be marketed to our Hispanic community; they will have a Tejano band in front of the arena before the games, and they will play Hispanic music during the games. They’ve done a lot of outreach in predominantly Hispanic schools.
Likewise, the Henderson Silver Knights, located 20 miles from their parent team, the Vegas Golden Knights, made their debut in the 2020-21 season. Henderson quickly embraced the new hockey culture after the instant success of Vegas, which reached the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season in 2017-18.
The Golden Knights’ two-rink facility in nearby Summerlin created immediate demand for all levels of skating and ice hockey in southern Nevada. In no time, the owners of the City of Henderson and Vegas teamed up to revamp an existing structure in downtown Henderson into the Lifeguard Arena, a two-rink / Silver Knights community venue that opened in November 2020.
“When the Summerlin rinks reached critical mass,” says Robert Herr, Deputy City Manager and Director of Infrastructure for the City of Henderson, “we started discussions with them about our interest in seeing rinks on the east side. from the city. “
Vegas’ success spills over to Henderson. “The team wanted to have an impact on the coaching and coaching aspects, so through their programs everything goes from Learning to Skate in Free Skating to our Henderson Junior Knights team,” says Herr.
Creating a new sports tapestry in the Coachella Valley can skate with surprising speed. “I remember a member of our council who recently dived into his home and told me he saw the neighborhood kids all hanging out in parks with sticks, a net and their street hockey gear. Herr said. “It’s something you would never have guessed seeing here.”
Design the new arena
Eighteen months of construction will result in the state-of-the-art Coachella Valley Arena with two rinks – one for the AHL franchise and one for community use.
With nearly 10,000 seats for hockey and 11,500 seats for concerts, the arena will also include 20 suites, two VIP clubs and a private club that can accommodate 150 people.
Design firm Populous has done its homework in creating a design aesthetic for the desert arena. “We spent a lot of time studying the area at the start of the project, examining the local architecture and understanding the colors, the materials, the shapes, the vernacular,” says Scott McCracken, architect and partner at Populous. “When you look at this building, you think of Palm Springs, the architecture of the desert.”
An indoor-outdoor tribute to desert life will be immediately evident upon entry.
“Being outdoors is, of course, a big part of the culture of the valley,” says Bridget Schmidt, architect and senior partner at Populous. “So the main hall is actually outside. We have found ways to integrate and engage this desert atmosphere.
The arena’s interiors will honor the region’s Native American heritage and the modern architecture that shapes the scene.
“We all know Palm Springs is known for its mid-century design, so it was a fun thing to explore,” McCracken said. “These elements appear on the interior finishes, where we play with patterns and colors. The bars of the ice center, to the east and to the west, are organized around a pool party.
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