The Indy Fuel has announced an affiliation agreement with a National Hockey League team. The five-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks will kick in at the conclusion of the current ECHL season. April 1, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. and CHICAGO, Ill. – The Indy Fuel and Chicago Blackhawks have finalized terms on a five-year affiliation agreement, pairing the ECHL's newest franchise with the defending NHL Stanley Cup champions to return professional hockey to the Indianapolis market. The agreement allows the Blackhawks to assign players to Indianapolis for development, while providing opportunities for Fuel players to be evaluated for the NHL roster.
“We are honored to be joining the Blackhawks family, a truly first-class organization with which we share a common philosophy of the game, direction for the team and mutual commitment to our communities,” said Indy Fuel President Sean Hallett. “Chicago already has a strong fan base in Indianapolis, and the Blackhawks are a winning organization with a strong emphasis on the development of up-and-coming young talent.”
The Blackhawks front office was enthusiastic about strengthening its player development system and maintaining a presence in the ECHL, the premier 'AA' league serving as a pipeline to the NHL. The Blackhawks are concluding an affiliation with the Toledo Walleye at the completion of the 2013-14 ECHL season.
“We are excited to begin this new partnership with the Indy Fuel,” said Chicago Blackhawks Director of Hockey Administration and General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard. “The Blackhawks and the city of Indianapolis have a history of developing many players that have had successful National Hockey League careers, and we look forward to doing the same with the Fuel and our deep group of talented prospects. The Blackhawks would also like to thank Joe Napoli, Nick Vitucci and the entire Toledo Walleye organization and their fans for a successful affiliation over the past five seasons.”
“As we reignite the spirit of professional hockey in Indianapolis, there's no better situation for us than working with the defending Stanley Cup champion, one of the 'Original Six' franchises,” Hallett added. “We expect the affiliation with the Blackhawks to take our fans’ excitement to another level – and because Chicago has been so successful in adding talent through the draft, we’re confident this move will help us put an exciting and competitive team on the ice for years to come.”
The Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum, the Fuel’s home ice, is nearing the final stages of its $63 million renovation, with a ribbon-cutting scheduled for late April. When complete, the double-tiered Coliseum will hold 6,200 people as configured for hockey. The structure was originally built in 1939 by Arthur Wirtz, the grandfather of current Blackhawk's owner Rocky Wirtz, who also first introduced the Circle City to professional hockey with the original Indianapolis Capitals.
With news of the Blackhawks affiliation, the Fuel also announced that it will extend the deadline for season ticket deposits to earn the opportunity to select preferred seating at the Coliseum. Deposits received before April 15th will allow ticket-holders to attend a special open house at the Coliseum on April 27th and choose their own seat(s) at the newly-renovated venue. The open house will also feature facility tours, including a behind-the-scenes look at locker rooms, and sampling the revamped concession menu available after the Coliseum opening. For more information regarding season tickets, go to www.Indyfuel.com/tickets.
About the Indy Fuel:
The Indy Fuel is bringing professional hockey back to Indianapolis, and will begin skating against rivals in the ECHL – the premier 'AA' league for the NHL – in October 2014. The Fuel's ‘home ice’ is the newly-renovated Coliseum on the Indiana State Fairgrounds, which hosted the city's first hockey team more than 75 years ago as well as its newest professional franchise. The Indy Fuel will host 36 home games during the 2014-15 season, providing exciting competition and affordable entertainment for the whole family. Fans can learn more at IndyFuelHockey.com, and connect with the team on Twitter @IndyFuel and at Facebook.com/IndyFuel. Corporate sponsorship opportunities are also available.
Source: The Indy Fuel