The Evansville IceMen’s move to Owensboro, Kentucky is official. The city of Evansville announced last month that a new hockey franchise would play in the Ford Center as part of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The ECHL Board of Governors has approved the transfer of the team, less than two months after the team entered into a contract with the city to play in the Owensboro Sportscenter. The board also approved the IceMen’s request for a voluntary suspension for the 2016-2017 season. The suspension will allow for renovations to the Owensboro Sportscenter.
"With a 66-year-old building, this is something that we want to do right," said IceMen Owner Ron Geary. "Out of fairness to the ECHL’s other member teams, this is not a project we can rush to complete. We want the Owensboro Sportscenter to be a great place to watch a hockey game, with amenities that are attractive to the fans."
Following the announcement in January of the partnership between the team and the city, our partners at WTVW/WEHT-TV reported the IceMen will invest $4 to $6 million, after purchasing the facility for $1. The renovations include expanding seating capacity from 5,000 to 7,200 seats and increasing the size of the arena floor.
Geary said a final determination of the cost of the renovations will require more time to finalize.
The move from Evansville to Owensboro comes after the team and the city of Evansville could not come to an agreement to keep the IceMen in Evansville’s Ford Center. Geary claimed the deal being presented to the team was too expensive.
The new Evansville team will debut in the 2016-2017 season.