Monday, November 25

Pro Ice Hockey Returns to Indianapolis' State Fairgrounds Coliseum

Looks like our professional sports teams ~ Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Fever, Indiana Pacers ~ have another pro ball team to balance things out.

The Indiana State Fair Commission has approved an agreement with Indiana Hockey Club, LLC, an ECHL expansion franchise that will become an anchor tenant for the fairgrounds’ newly renovated Coliseum and begin playing its home games there in October, 2014. The two organizations have signed a five-year deal that also calls for the team to house its administrative offices at the fairgrounds.

Carmel businessman Jim Hallett, the chief executive officer and director of KAR Auction Services, one of North America’s largest automotive remarketing companies, is the chairman of Indiana Hockey Club, LLC and no stranger to hockey, as a lifelong fan, former player and former team owner.

The Coliseum Complex is in the final months of a $63 million renovation that will modernize the entire arena with new lighting, a two-tiered seating bowl, a digital overhead scoreboard, state of the art sound equipment and ample ADA seating. It will accommodate about 6,200 fans for hockey and is scheduled to reopen in April, 2014.

The State Fairgrounds has been the hub of Indianapolis’ long hockey history dating back to 1939 when the Coliseum first opened and the Indianapolis Capitals began the first of their 13 seasons in the International American Hockey League. The building subsequently housed the Indianapolis Chiefs, Racers, Checkers and Ice from a variety of professional leagues from 1955 – 2004.

The Indiana Ice, an amateur team playing in the United States Hockey League, called the Coliseum home from 2004 – 2012 when the renovation began, but ultimately decided not to return to the Coliseum after the renovation is completed.

That decision eventually led the commission to Hallett and the ECHL. Hockey’s premier “AA” league, the ECHL not only offers Ft. Wayne as a natural regional rival, but it also has franchises in nearby Evansville, Cincinnati and Toledo. Overall, it currently has 22 teams located throughout the country and is responsible for sending more than 500 players to the National Hockey League since its inception in 1988.

The hockey club is the second team to announce a deal to play in the renovated Coliseum. Earlier this year, the IUPUI Jaguars announced a five-year agreement to play all its men’s and selected women’s basketball games in the arena. The hockey team will unveil additional details, including information on the lottery process for selecting season tickets for the club’s inaugural season.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living, travel, food, wine and spirits columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic for Gotta Go. Read Infused, her spirits, wine & beer lifestyle column, at www.GottaGo.us and www.FoodDigital.com and catch her as Indy’s Personal Lifestyle Adviser on Indy Style, WISH8 (CBS). Gotta Go is published on www.Gottago.us, www.BroadwayWorld.com, and in print. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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