American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has granted approval of the relocation of the inactive AHL franchise owned by the Calgary Flames to Omaha, Neb., effective next season.
The team will play its home games at the renovated downtown Omaha Civic Auditorium.
“We are thrilled to welcome the city of Omaha to the excitement, energy and skill level of the American Hockey League,” said Andrews. “Omaha has a rich hockey tradition, and this partnership of the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben with one of the top NHL organizations in the Calgary Flames will most certainly provide Nebraska sports fans with a team to be proud of in every respect. As we enter our historic 70th season of play, Omaha will provide an immediate competitive rivalry with Chicago, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids and our other newest teams in Des Moines and Peoria.”
The addition of Omaha brings the AHL to 30 teams as the league prepares to commemorate its 70th anniversary in 2005-06. Also joining the league next season are the Iowa Stars, who will be starting play in Des Moines as the Dallas Stars’ top affiliate; the Peoria Rivermen, as the new affiliate of the St. Louis Blues; and the Toronto Marlies, the new top development club for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League clubs. The 2004-05 season sees 28 teams competing for the coveted Calder Cup championship, and more than 5.7 million fans have already attended AHL games this year alone.