NHL Seattle and the Oak View Group (OVG) jointly submitted an application for the 32nd American Hockey League (AHL) franchise team. The AHL team would be the top minor league affiliate for Seattle's NHL franchise.
If awarded, the team would begin play in the fall of 2021 at a new arena in Palm Springs, California. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, a federally recognized Indian Tribe, and OVG announced a partnership to build the new sports and entertainment arena on Wednesday.
NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke acknowledged the franchise was looking at Palm Springs for their affiliate team in May.
“It’s a really big deal and we want to create the perfect environment for our hockey staff to develop players,” Leiweke said in a radio interview.
The proposed 300,000-square-foot arena will be located on 16 acres of tribal land and seat as many as 10,000 fans. The privately-funded arena will include an adjoining facility that will serve as the training center for an AHL team as well as a year-round community gathering space.
"This is a unique partnership that will forever change the face of sports and entertainment in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley," Tribal Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe said. "We are creating a healthy community gathering place for Coachella Valley families and visitors from around the world to celebrate, play, and experience diverse entertainment opportunities in a state-of-the-art arena."
Construction on the arena is expected to begin in February 2020 for a fall 2021 completion.
NHL Seattle still has to hire a General Manager, break ground on their training facility at Northgate, and name the franchise. There have been previous indications that the club could look to own the AHL franchise outright.
Seattle’s NHL franchise will play at the new arena at Seattle Center beginning in 2021.
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