City of Tucson approves funding for arena upgrades for AHL team
Image Courtesy of the Tucson Convention Center

It's already built so they are coming. It just needs some finishing touches. The proposed move of the AHL's Springfield Falcons to Tucson picked up steam on Tuesday as the Tucson City Council and Rio Nuevo District unanimously approved $3.2 million for "back of the house" upgrades.  

Funds for upgrades

The funds would cover the construction of locker rooms, upgrades to the ice plant, new dasher boards, new broadcast technologies and a press box. These features would bring the facility to AHL standards.

As part of a longer view plan an additional $8 million is to be earmarked for the construction of a practice facility in the downtown area. This alone would be a boon for the residents since there is not a single sheet of ice in the city outside of what is at the Arena.  The practice facility would be open to the public, club teams, the University of Arizona club hockey team as well as having restaurants and shopping.

The new practice facility could also help mitigate events competing for space at the Arena and Convention Center.  The Tucson Mineral and Gem Show is a world renowned event that occupies most of the Tucson Convention Center during their runs every February. Overflow from this event, and others, would certainly make use of the new facility.

Next steps

The next steps in the process to bringing the AHL to Tucson include the approval of a lease by the Tucson City Council and the approval of the sale by the AHL Board of Governors. The lease negotiations are ongoing and should be finished next month while the AHL BOG meet May 10th and are expected to approve the deal.  

Once that is complete the moving trucks will be ordered, the construction begins, and the changes occurn, including the name of the team.

Despite the ownership group having a name already picked out the response to the potential team has been so great the ownership group decided to let the fans choose the name.

With the pending completed purchase of the AHL’s Springfield Falcons by their parent NHL club Arizona Coyotes, the Team To Be Named Later is going to be given a new moniker by the fans.

Anthony LeBlanc, the Coyotes President and Alternate Governor, stated that despite the ownership group already having a name in place the overwhelmingly positive reaction makes the owners give the fans the naming honor.

Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) via Twitter broke that news.

"LeBlanc said they ID'ed a handful of names, but once he saw fan reactions, team will likely do a "name the team" contest for the fans" - Craig Morgan @craigsmorgan 12:21 pm 20 April 2016

It's a great idea and helps generate buy-in by the fans. By naming the team the fans start the process of creating a bond and ownership of their team.

Suggestions from around the internet include Coyotes, Roadrunners, Gila Monsters, Haboob and Cholla. Whatever the name finally ends up being it will be colorful and representative of the southern Arizona region.