A professional hockey team could begin playing at the Casper Events Center as early as fall 2013.

City Manager John Patterson said the city is in the process of bringing Central Hockey League play to the area, as community interest sparked the notion about three months ago.

“There are a number of people who love hockey and want to see professional hockey here,” he said.

At a monthly Casper City Council meeting on Friday, Patterson said the city is working to assemble an “investment board.” The board would purchase a team and install the ice rink. Patterson said the city wouldn’t contribute to the project but provides an ideal facility in the Events Center with enough space and seating.

“The hope is to put in an ice floor, and create some box seating and get a Jumbotron up there,” he said.

The construction would take less than 90 days, and the city has until the season’s start in October. Patterson said the improvements could be done during a slow time at the Events Center.

Patterson said there are several teams for sale in the Central Hockey League, and he expects the team will likely be from Texas.

The CHL is roughly comparable to baseball’s AA level in the hierarchy of minor league hockey. It will field 10 teams this season and add a team in St. Charles, Mo., for the 2013-14 season. Two teams are currently located in Texas: the Allen Americans and the Forth Worth Bramhas.

The closest franchises to Casper are the Rapid City (S.D.) Rush and the Denver Cutthroats.

“There probably will be a team that has closed operations elsewhere,” he said.

Councilman Maury Daubin expressed support for the plan while Councilman Keith Goodenough questioned its feasibility.

“I have trouble seeing how this is going to work,” Goodenough said.

Patterson said the ice would stay on the Events Center floor eight months a year and an inch-thick board would be placed over the ice when concerts and other events take place. The hockey team would play about 40 home games each season.

The Casper Ice Arena, located at the city recreation center, is currently the only ice rink in Casper, but Patterson said it does not have the capacity to host professional hockey. Officials in Rapid City are assisting in Casper’s efforts.

Patterson said agreement details should be determined within the next two months in order to offer hockey by next season.

Reach city reporter Kelly Byer at 307-266-0639 or kelly.byer@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyByer.

(10) comments


John Patterson, who wants to see professional hocky in Casper? who did you talk to about this project? Who in the he)) wants you to spend our money on a pro hocky team? How much exactly do you expect this to cost? Who is the private partner you want to hook up with this time. What are the benifits that the people of Casper going to reap from this? I think that John Patterson needs to go and take his Ice dreams with him. Maury Daubin your days are numbered also.


I think this is an amazing idea and will bring people from all over to watch hockey. Hockey is an awesome sport and I fully support this idea!!!!!!!


I have a great idea asmith if you are so gung ho on the hockey idea then why don't you finance it. This should be a private venture. If someone wants to buy the team, lease the events center and pay the bills I say go for it. When it has to have tax moneys to support it I say no way. If they want to put it on a ballet and vote for it and it wins OK then at least the people will have a say.


I fully support this idea as well! I think Casper needs less bars, and more family activities, this would be an awesome experience for Casper youth, and adults!


"Patterson said there are several teams for sale in the Central Hockey League, and he expects the team will likely be from Texas."

Currently there are only two active teams in Texas (the Allen Americans & Fort Worth Brahmas). I can guarantee you that neither team is relocating, nor is for sale. Fort Worth was just recently purchased by a group of local (Ft Worth) businessmen who are dedicated to keeping the team in the Fort Worth area. The Allen Americans are entering their 4th year in the league and with the recent additions of Mike Modano, Craig Ludwig, and Ed Belfour to a strong & committed ownership group (Doug Miller, majority partner and Steve Duchesne, minority partner), I don't see my beloved Americans going anywhere out of state any time soon. Perhaps a move from the CHL to the ECHL is in their future, but not a move to Wyoming.

There are two "dormant" franchises in Texas. The Rio Grande Killer Bees (ceased operations at the conclusion of the 11-12 season) and the Austin Ice Bats (ceased operations at the conclusion of the 07-08 season). Purchasing a dormant franchise, solely for the "charter" is much cheaper than buying a currently operating team or buying a new franchise charter from the league.


Thanks for the info.


I have no idea if this is a good idea or not. I take it that the investment group will do both a feasibility study and marketing study. What I do know if this is to happen it will create an additional yearly cost for the city. It will also limit the number of events that will be booked into the event center. It will also during the hockey season limit the type of events that will come to the event center. Also while most hockey teams run a family friendly environment that is not true of all hockey teams. Hopefully the council will actually take the time to really study all this. It most likely will be a long range commitment that will change the type of entertainment that will be available to the citizens of Casper.

As usual with this city manager there is no long ranging planning and of course this all has to be decided within the next month or so. That is really beginning to get old.


i am absolutly in love with the idea of a professional hockey team coming to casper wyo. as someone who has been involved in the game of hockey my whole life and has seen how things work in high levels of the sport i have to say that i think you are crazy if you do not believe this is something not worth pursuing. i have read people saying that it will cost to much money, that it will restrict the events that come to casper, and that it will not benefit the community. all three of these are false. i will first start by saying that most of the time anything this good is worth the investment at the start because, by the time two years passes by it has already payed for itself and is now becoming a profitable investment. sacrafices must be made to achieve greatness at times. as for a hockey team restricting the events that would come to the events center, it is completly false. if you have ever been to a concert or a basketball game at the pepsi center in denver (the closest one) or many other venues around the country. the thing you may not realize is even when a basketball game is being played or a concert is going on, there is a sheet of ice below you at all times. one big issue i have with the concern that events will not come to casper is that the events center is hardly ever used for how prestigious a venue some people make it out.we are lucky to have a concert there every two months and the biggest event of the year is the CNFR which is in june and in case you dont know june is not hockey season. if your concerned about events not coming to casper then you need to get on board with a professional hockey team in casper. i did read that there would be 40 home games played with the possibility of more if the team made the playoffs. this means that the events center for 6-8 months of the year has an activity two to three times a week that i believe can attract a ton of support. hockey is a game like no other to watch live,there is not a sport that is faster, more physical, and higher paced as hockey; for as long as i have been associated with the game i have seen people from all walks of life who had never seen a hockey game before walk out after seiing one live hooked for life. the CHL is a very established well respected professional hockey league. we are not talking about a pioneer league baseball team where you are watching professionals try to develop skills to make it to the next level, instead your watching professional talent showcase what it has learned already to take with them to the next level. we are talking about a team where a player could be in casper one night and the next day on a plane to go play for someone in the NHL.the last point i will hit on is the opportunity this holds for our community. casper for since i have been alive has only had one ice rink. since i was younger to where we are today casper and surrounding areas populations have exploded upwards, but yet the numbers in our hockey program has dropped considerably. now with only one sheet of ice in town trying to divide ice time between a hockey orginization,figure skating club, and the needs of recreational activity for the city it makes it very tough to make it to where as a hockey program you can develop consistent talent. but even with the reduced hours of ice time and the division of the schedules caspers' hockey program is still able to compete with elite orginizations from around the country. just imagine the impact of a professional sports team in casper. first it would be an option for one more sheet of ice,with one more sheet of ice comes more ice time for our kids. with more ice time for our kids comes greater excitement and better talent coming out of caspers youth. also with a team like this you get people excited and generate an attitude for an entire community where we are giving our kids people to look up to and strive to be like.so when this type of mentality sets in the number of kids that will start to learn and enjoy this great game will grow tremendously.casper will be able to host more tournaments, also creating revenue for the city and many businesses. and who knows maybe with a structed professional hockey team it gets kids who normally would not play just because they are not exposed to the great lessons and experiences hockey can bring to come out. as numbers grow talent grows.maybe one day casper will see someone make it to the NHL. i do realize i have rambled on about this and appreciate it if you took the time to read it, i just feel that this is an opportunity that we can not pass up.


Many thought the same thing when we got a CHL team in Rapid City. But the fan base has grown, and team has been active in the community. It has been a truly win-win deal. I see one of the concerns is not being able to attract other events, I imagine Casper, like Rapid City, isn't one of the go-to spots for major tours anyways so why not put some butts in the seats?


Ill be the first to buy season tickets. Love love love the idea.

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