Eagles could become Avs’ AHL affiliate
June 16, 2017
From the owner’s box
The Trib caught up with Eagles owner Martin Lind while he navigated the nightmare of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. While he offered no specifics on the Eagles’ potential to move up to the AHL, he praised his club’s “fantastic” relationship with the Avs.
“There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of complexities (to moving up to the AHL),” Lind said. “I really wouldn’t be able to comment, other than we’re just enjoying the relationship right now and seeing if we can further it. The championship was a riot this year. We owe an awful lot of that to our relationship with the Avs.”
Lind couldn’t say how much the necessary expansion to the Budweiser Events Center would cost, but he said that it’d go beyond more seats and nicer locker rooms.
“It isn’t necessarily just seats, because the new venue for sporting arenas isn’t necessarily having people chained to seats, it’s experiential,” Lind said. “It’s facilities, group areas, corporate areas. Plus locker rooms and all that kind of stuff would need to be expanded.”
Though he couldn’t go into specifics, Lind added that the Eagles and the Avs are “constantly exploring other options” in their affiliate relationship before coyly telling fans to “stay tuned.”
The Avalanche might move its primary minor-league interests from San Antonio to less than an hour drive north of Denver, to Loveland, joining forces with the highly successful Colorado Eagles, who could become the Avs' American Hockey League affiliate as early as 2018-19.
The Eagles, the Avs' current ECHL affiliate who recently won the Kelly Cup as ECHL champions, are mulling opportunities for AHL membership, according to president and general manager Chris Stewart, and hoping to increase their partnership with Colorado's NHL team. The ECHL is considered double-A, a level below the AHL.
"There have been some discussions," Stewart said of Eagles' AHL venture with the Avalanche. "Obviously, the proximity and logistics, there's a lot of sense for an affiliation that could possibly take us to the American Hockey League. I can't confirm anything at this point, by any means, because there are way too many moving parts."
The Eagles' AHL opportunity became available because of the NHL expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who will share the AHL's Chicago Wolves with the St. Louis Blues in 2017-18 before the Blues sign elsewhere. There will be 31 NHL teams next season, but just 30 AHL teams.
“I don’t believe that the AHL would accept the building as it sits today. I’m not just talking about seats. The facility in general, the locker rooms, I do think there would have to be some mitigation done to the building to help facilitate an American Hockey League franchise if we went in that direction.” Chris Stewart,Eagles’ President and General Manager
St. Louis could conceivably replace the Avalanche as the San Antonio Rampage's parent team in 2018-19. The Avs will continue to place their top prospects in San Antonio for the coming season, and beyond if the deal with the Eagles doesn't work out.
Because the Avs remain under contract with the Rampage, they declined to comment about the Eagles and the AHL.