PALM SPRINGS (CBSLA) – A semipro ice hockey team is coming to the desert – along with a massive new arena.

NHL Seattle and Oak View Group, a sports and entertainment company, which together will establish a primary development affiliate that will play at a new arena on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation in Palm Springs after the American Hockey League (AHL) confirmed its award of a expansion franchise to the group.

The U.S.-based AHL serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League.

The American Hockey League Board of Governors confirmed the move in a statement, which said the $250 million project will break ground in early 2020 and will open in the fall of 2021.

“On behalf of the AHL’s Board of Governors, I am thrilled to welcome the NHL Seattle … and the city of Palm Springs as the league’s 32nd
franchise,” AHL President and CEO David Andrews said in a statement released this morning. “Palm Springs has all the makings of an outstanding hockey market and will further strengthen the growing base of our sport in California.”

The new arena at Agua Caliente in Palm Springs will be “the first of its kind in downtown Palm Springs and will be an unmatched venue in the Coachella Valley for both music and sport,” said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group.”We look forward to partnering with the Agua Caliente Band of
Cahuilla Indians and NHL Seattle on this project,” he said.

Construction of the facilities will provide “thousands” of jobs, according to Leiweke, while the full slate of events through the year will have around as many as 500 people working at the arena on a daily basis.

(Image courtesy The Fearey Group)

The 10,000-seat arena will be a year-round facility for sports, music and other cultural event, Leiweke said at a news conference at the Palm Springs Convention Center, along with brother Tod, CEO of NHL Seattle.

A training facility for the AHL team – which will also double as a facility for youth hockey and ice skating for the general public – will be built next door.

The arena is also expected to be active during major events like the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals, according to Leiweke.

“When the whole world is here, we want to activate and add to that momentum,” he said.

NHL Seattle and its AHL franchise will start playing in Oct. 2021.

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