JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- Jacksonville's newest professional sports franchise hopes you will support a "cool" sport.
The Jacksonville Icemen will take to the ice at the Veterans Memorial Arena starting this fall. The team will play in the ECHL, a developmental hockey league for the National Hockey League.
After playing in Evansville (Indiana), the team's primary owner Ron Geary made the decision to move the team to the First Coast.
“Jacksonville is a natural fit for professional hockey,” said Geary in a statement released by the team.
“We looked at the enthusiastic support current teams receive here and are excited to join them in providing Jacksonville fans with solid family-priced sports entertainment.”
"There are two types of people. There are hockey fans, and there are future hockey fans" said Icemen president Bob Ohrablo.
The Icemen franchise had been affiliated with the NHL's Ottawa Senators in the past, however they are not ready to announce who they will be affiliated with moving forward.
The Icemen join fellow Florida teams in Orlando and Fort Myers in the 28 team ECHL. They will compete in the Southern Division including the Florida teams, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Charleston (SC) and Greenville (SC).
“The continuing growth of Jacksonville, along with the experienced and enthusiastic ownership group, the wonderful venue and support of the city officials, creates a very positive outlook for the future of pro hockey in Jacksonville.” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna.
This is not the city's first hockey team. The Jacksonville Barracudas were the most recent team in the city. They folded in 2008. Before that, the Lizard Kings thrilled fans at the old Coliseum.
The Icemen will practice at the Ice and Sportsplex off I-95.
Opening Night for the Icemen will be in October 2017.
Ticket information is available here.