Rockford to join AHL in 2007-08

rfd_286.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has unanimously approved the sale and relocation of the inactive AHL franchise owned by Gardens Hockey Inc., of Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Rockford MetroCentre of Rockford, Ill.

The team, which will be known as the Rockford IceHogs, has also entered into a 10-year affiliation agreement with the Chicago Blackhawks and will serve as the NHL club’s top development team beginning in 2007-08.

“The city of Rockford and the MetroCentre arena will be an excellent addition to the American Hockey League,” said Andrews. “Rockford’s position on the AHL landscape and its new relationship with the Chicago Blackhawks will create marketing and player development advantages as well as a strong new geographic rival for our other Western Conference clubs.”

The MetroCentre, which seats 7,000 for hockey, is owned and operated by Centre Events, a municipal corporation established to promote, operate and maintain expositions, conventions, sports and theatrical and cultural activities in Winnebago County.

There are now 29 teams active for the AHL’s 2007-08 season. In addition to Rockford, the AHL will also be welcoming the Lake Erie Monsters next year, starting play at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland as the top affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. Currently in its 71st season of play, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams.

More than 83 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 6.3 million fans have attended AHL games across North America in each of the past five seasons.