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Hockey in Tucson coming soon

By - May 31, 2016


By Alex Didion/For The Sporting Nation
Professional hockey will be returning to Tucson in 2016, as the Arizona Coyotes announced May 19th they had closed on the purchase of the American Hockey League’s Springfield Falcons.
The Falcons will be moving into the Tucson Convention Center, where they will begin playing home games this October. The team will have a new name, as fans were recently given the opportunity to submit entries.
The Coyotes’ and the city of Tucson agreed on a 10-year lease of the Tucson Convention Center, which already plays host to the University of Arizona men’s hockey team. According to Tucson Convention Center General Manager Glenn Grabski, there has already been a lot of excitement generated by the announcement.

Grabski said there has been a “lot of buzz to it” in the city, adding “I’m looking forward to having a team down here in Tucson.

The franchise hopes bringing the top affiliate closer to home will allow for more operational control over the team, and make it much easier to move prospects up and down. "Having our top prospects so close to the Valley will allow us to more closely monitor our players and have a greater role in their development. Playing in the AHL's Pacific Division will provide our prospects with an exceptional environment for growth. This is an ideal situation for us," said Coyotes’ General Manager John Chayka said during the introductory press conference.

The AHL’s Pacific Division consisted of seven teams last season, while the Springfield Falcons played in the Atlantic Divison. According to, a website that measures real distance between cities, Glendale and Tucson are 117.8 miles apart, which is the fourth-longest distance within the Pacific Division, behind the Anaheim Ducks and the San Diego Gulls (86.5 miles), the Los Angeles Kings and the Ontario Reign (37.3 miles), and the San Jose Sharks, who share their home ice with their AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracudas.

Fans who submit the winning name will be entered into a grand prize drawing to win two season tickets for the Tucson team's 2016-17 AHL regular season, a Tucson team jersey and a 12-person suite to a 2016-17 Arizona Coyotes regular season home game. The contest will run from May 17 through midnight on May 31.

The city of Tucson has hosted several minor league hockey franchises over the years, the last one being the Tucson Gila Monsters of the West Coast Hockey League. The Gila Monsters played one full season in 1997-1998, but folded 21 games into their 1998 campaign, according to

The Coyotes have been in discussion with the University of Arizona about a potential partnership. “We also hope to build another sheet of ice in Tucson as the TCC provides the only ice in the city. Everything is still in the beginning stages but talks should progress as the summer wears on,” said Jeffrey Sanders, media relations coordinator with the Coyotes.

Springfield, which is also home to the AHL headquarters, finished last season with 60 points, placing them last in the Eastern Conference. Jason Chaimovitch, Vice President of Communications for the league, said the team being in Springfield was “irrelevant” in the sale and eventual move of the team.



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