Fans have chance to name hockey team
Published 7:40 am Thursday, February 25, 2010
Austin’s new junior hockey franchise should have a name by Monday.
This according to team owner Craig Patrick, who made the announcement during a Wednesday afternoon “welcome to Austin” press conference at Riverside Arena, which will become the team’s home.
And the most exciting part of the naming process, Patrick said, is that the moniker will come from a fan.
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The owner said those interested should go to AustinNAHL.com, where fans can sign-up to be on the team’s mailing list and suggest a name. If a suggested name is selected, the person who submitted the idea will receive a free set of season tickets.
Other parts of the new team are also starting to come together. Patrick said he should be ready to announce a coaching staff within three to four weeks. Not long after that, roster spots should begin to be filled as the team holds tryout camps. Those camps are expected to come in early May and will likely be held in Minnesota, Wisconsin and possibly out east, Patrick said.
Tryouts are expected to be done by August at the latest, when the team will begin practicing for the start of the North American Hockey League season in September.
There are also arena renovations to be done. The city, as part of its lease agreement with the team, will chip in $70,000 worth of upgrades. Those should start soon, Patrick said, and will include expanding locker rooms and upgrading the media area.
Patrick also has plans to do his own renovations, which he said should get underway after Riverside ice is removed for the season. This work will include installing a new Jumbotron monitor and a lighting system for pre-game player introductions.
All the to-dos have kept Patrick busy, but he said he’s excited for everything that’s happening.
“It’s been very busy,” Patrick said. “Definitely not much downtime so far.”
Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm also said he was excited to welcome the new team to town. He said he sees only positives in bringing junior hockey back to Austin for the first time since the Mavericks left in 1985.
“The better the arena does, the better the team does, the better the city does,” Stiehm said. “There’s really not a downside for Austin.”
Mark Motz, chairman of the NAHL Board of Governors and owner of the North Iowa Outlaws, said he was looking forward to welcoming Austin into the NAHL’s Central Division. Along with the Iowa franchise, which is relocating to Wisconsin next year, Austin will be grouped with the Albert Lea Thunder, the Alexandria Blizzard, the Bismarck Bobcats and the Owatonna Express.
Reading from a statement from the league’s commissioner, who was not in attendance, Motz said the Central Division should have plenty of fierce rivalries.
“It’s an exciting day for the league,” he said, “and the great hockey state of Minnesota.”
Want to suggest a name for the new Austin junior hockey team? Go to AustinNAHL.com to submit an idea and to register for the team’s mailing list. A name is expected to be finalized Monday.