ECHL Additions Coming Soon?

Cliff Rucker, a converted hockey fan and business man, is in the throws of a bid to bring the ECHL to Worcester. He is meeting with the ECHL Board of Governors to hear their decision on the matter in the coming days. Why is this important? Simply put, it demonstrates the potential hoops that Oklahoma City would need to jump in order to bring the East Coast Hockey League (wink wink) to the Sooner State.

Terms and paperwork were due December 1st for those cities and investors looking to add to the total number of ECHL destinations. Currently riding at 28, the goal is to be at 30 by next season to align themselves properly with their AHL and NHL counterparts.

Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram reports:

Lately, Rucker has been in the city constantly and has meetings scheduled through 3 p.m. Wednesday. He will fly to Kalamazoo that night and meet informally with the executive Board of Governors on Thursday, then make his final pitch the next day.

While the ECHL has been cooperative, informative and supportive of his bid to land an expansion franchise, Rucker said, he heads to Michigan with no guarantee he will come home with a franchise.

“Nobody has told me, ‘Hey Cliff — don’t worry.’ ”

So, he is a little worried.

With a date, time, and place now set for the meeting, Rucker will wait to hear the fate of pucks dropping in Worcester by next season. If the transaction is officially approved, there will be room for the addition of one more team.

The ECHL currently has 28 teams and has capped its membership at 30 to coincide with the makeup of both the National Hockey League and American Hockey League. Rucker is not aware of any other applications to join the ECHL that might be voted on Friday but said that does not mean there are not any others.

“It’s blind, like a job interview,” he said. “You don’t know who else is applying.”

While Rucker has interviewed potential employees, he will make the trip to Kalamzoo on his own.

“I’ve been pretty much an army of one for quite some time now,” he said.

If there is any truth to the rumors that the Dallas Stars might be issuing a change to their ECHL ties, this might be the most important week to keep an eye on things. With no official word being given by the city, its leaders or on its agendas — we remain hopeful. That’s enough for now.

12 comments on “ECHL Additions Coming Soon?”

  1. So Neal, is it your feeling that OKC will again be without pro hockey for the 16-17 season if we (OKC hockey fans) don’t hear something by the end of these ECHL meetings?

  2. Greetings from Worcester! Losing a sports team is lousy – you deserve one that will stay long term and can grown in the community. Best of luck with getting pro hockey back in OKC!

  3. No indication down here that Le$ Alexander (Rockets’ owner) has any interest in allowing hockey back into the Toyota Center. After all, he’s the guy who ran the Aeros out of town to Des Moines.

    Good luck to OKC!

      1. None. We can’t even host a NAHL team (1500 seat minimum requirement). The NA3HL team in Sugar Land plays in a 300+ seat rink which will probably blow down in the next hurricane.

        The Sugar Land city council wants to build an arena larger than the Cedar Park Center and the city has land near their minor league ball park. There’s also a local willing to chip in $25 million of his own money as a part owner. What’s missing is a bond issue and more important – a tenant. Sugar Land is rapidly growing and flush with money (just built a $42 million performing arts center), so the tenant is the big hang-up. And no way is Alexander allowing a D-League team there.

          1. New info coming out of Sugar Land:

            1) The land by the minor league baseball stadium is owned by the city and was bought for the purpose of a sports arena.

            2) Not one, but now THREE private investors (not all at the $25 million level).

            3) Tenant : NAHL team (Tier II juniors) first, maybe ECHL/AHL later. NAHL team would be an upgrade of the current NA3HL team playing at the current itty-bitty, barely maintained rink…..which is now having ice issues.

            4) Not clear on how big they intend to build it, or if they will possibly build it in stages (which would be more expensive in the end). So maybe 2,000 for the NAHL team and 8-10K for pros.

            5) Nothing for the voters yet. Still have a few months to get something on the ballot for fall.

            6) NAHL team could be playing by fall 2018 if all goes well. That sounds aggressive to me.

  4. Neal, if the Dallas Stars were considering moving their ECHL team from Idaho to OKC, is that something that would be brought up at these meetings or at something later in the season?

    1. It would be, but it wouldn’t be mentioned to the world unless someone decides to divulge information. Otherwise we will wait until meetings are over, and IF ECHL in OKC was discussed and denied, we still may not know about that.

  5. I think OKC is in a better spot having not had hockey for a season or to. It will make the fan base want it more. Unlike how things happened in Glens Falls, when the Phantoms came in we the fans came out and supported the team knowing it was only until the new building was finished in Leigh high valley. To have Abbotsford move in after they left was a great thing. Only to have the announcement after a half season that they were moving to Stockton. Adirondack out drew Albany each and every season, this year Glens Falls has a winning team for the first time in a long time but attendance numbers leave a lot to be desired. I like most fans were left with a bad taste in my mouth with how things went down with the AHL, keep in mind I’m glad to have hockey in the GFCC. The fan base is less supportive of the new team and it’s a shame, cause the playoffs aren’t a pipe dream this year. I almost think not having a team for this year would have reinvigorated the fan base, like when the phantoms came north, instead it makes hockey look like an unviable option. But that’s just my opinion, good luck with expansion, I hope you get a team.

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