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Meep Meep! Roadrunners set for return to Arizona ice

By - Jun 20, 2016

By Alex Didion/For the Sporting Nation

 

TUCSON, Ariz. --  The Arizona Coyotes revealed the name and logo of their newly purchased American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate this past Saturday afternoon in front of fans gathered at the Tucson Convention Center.  The Tucson Roadrunners bring back a name that has been synonymous with hockey in Arizona for almost 50 years.
 
The Coyotes held a “Name the Team” contest last month, and according to team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc, the overwhelming majority of fans chose the name Roadrunners, which now makes the Tucson Roadrunners the newest members of the AHL.
 
“It makes a lot of sense, it is a name that has so much history in this state,” said LeBlanc. “We thank the thousands of fans who helped us select a great name that creates a strong connection to the City of Tucson, reflects our state pride, and extends the reach of the Coyotes brand.”
 
The Roadrunners name dates back to 1967, when the Phoenix Roadrunners of the Western Hockey League were Arizona’s first professional sports franchise. The team bounced around to multiple leagues and ceased play in 1979.
 
Just a decade later, the Roadrunners were back and playing in the International Hockey League. They played at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where the former Roadrunners had also played.
 
The Roadrunners were in Phoenix until 1997, but returned in 2005 as a member of the ECHL. This franchise played at the U.S. Airways Center, but suspended operations following the 2008-2009 season.
 
Tucson is no stranger to minor league sports franchises, as numerous minor league baseball franchises have called the city home in the past. Most recently, the Tucson Padres were the Pacific Coast League AAA affiliate for the San Diego Padres from 2011-2013, but the team moved to El Paso for the 2014 season and became the El Paso Chihuahuas. The Tucson Sidewinders were also the Arizona Diamondbacks' AAA affiliate from 1998-2008 and played in the PCL.
 
“I had two requests, that the team pick a good name and a good logo, and I think the Coyotes’ scored on both points,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “We know there is a lot of hockey fans here in Tucson, and I’m really looking forward to the Coyotes being a wonderful partner.”
 
The name and cartoon-inspired logo ties into the classic “Looney Tunes” characters Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner. The skits would often involve the coyote coming up with elaborate plans to capture the evasive Road Runner, but each attempt would end with the Coyote taking the punishment from his own traps. It appears now, however, the Roadrunners will finally be chasing the Coyotes.
 
“We didn’t have the Tucson Roadrunners in mind when we started this renovation, but clearly without it we wouldn’t have attracted this team and this franchise to Tucson,” said Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District board chair Fletcher McCusker, whose organization spearheaded the $7.8 million renovation of the facility.
 
Rio Nuevo also helped to attract the team to Tucson, as it is a state-sponsored organization that puts together projects to improve the Tucson downtown area, and is the owner and operator of the Tucson Convention Center.
 
McCusker expected 1,000 season tickets to be sold last Saturday.
 
The team also announced they will be hosting a Red and White intra-squad game on October 9, which will feature players from the inaugural Roadrunners roster. Admission will be free, although the team will be asking each fan to donate $5 at the door with all proceeds going to support the University of Arizona hockey program. The Wildcats will also play  games at the convention center.
 
Opening weekend for the Roadrunners will be Friday, October 28and Sunday, October 30at the TCC, as LeBlanc announced in his closing statements. The AHL schedule will be officially announced in Aug

 

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