Jacksonville Sports Day

ECHL: Icemen Ownership Group Behind League Expansion to Savannah

SAVANNAH, GA – The City of Savannah will be home to a professional ice hockey team, as the ECHL today announced the City of Savannah as its newest member.

The new Savannah Professional Hockey Team will officially drop the puck and compete in the new Savannah Arena at the start of the 2022-23 ECHL season. The as-of-yet-to-be-named team will soon announce a Name the Team contest.

The Savannah Professional Hockey Team is owned by Roo Hockey, LLC, whose executive team is comprised of Andy Kaufmann, CEO, Zawyer Sports who will also serve as the Savannah Professional Hockey Team’s Alternate Governor; Bob Ohrablo, President who will serve as the team’s Governor; and Scott Einhorn, Executive Vice President. Roo Hockey, LLC, is a division of Zawyer Sports, owners of the Jacksonville Icemen (ECHL) and the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels (MiLB). Roo Hockey plans to expand its ownership and include members of the Savannah community.

“This is a great day for the City of Savannah as we officially welcome a professional ECHL hockey team,” said Savannah Mayor Van R. Johnson, II. “We are fortunate to have a spectacular new arena which will be a wonderful place for the region to gather and enjoy live events. Through our partnership with the Oak View Group, we look forward to welcoming Andy, Bob, Scott and the Savannah Professional Hockey Team to our community.”

“We are grateful to the ECHL Board of Governors for awarding us a new membership and we thank Mayor Johnson, the Savannah City Council and Oak View Group for creating a stunning new venue for us to compete,” said Kaufmann. “Savannah is a terrific sports town and we look forward to making it a fantastic hockey town.

“The ECHL is excited to welcome the City of Savannah as our newest member,” said Ryan Crelin, Commissioner, ECHL. “We look forward to opening night in October 2022 in a beautiful new arena and the creation of a natural hot rivalry between the new Savannah Professional Hockey Team and geographic rivals such as the Atlanta Gladiators; South Carolina Stingrays, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and Jacksonville Icemen.”

The new hockey team will be the main tenant at the new Savannah Arena, featuring a capacity of 9,500 seats (7,300 for hockey), 12 luxury suites, five lodge boxes, and a party suite. Scheduled to open in the winter of 2022, the new Savannah Arena will enhance and increase live entertainment options in Southern Georgia by hosting must-see national touring concerts, family shows, comedians, other sporting events, private meetings, and more.

The team is introducing a Coldfront is Coming to Savannah promotional campaign using #SavannahColdFront. Sports fans throughout the Savannah Region are encouraged to follow the Savannah Professional Hockey Team online at savannahprohockey.com or on social media (Facebook/Instagram) @savannahprohockey and @SavannahHockey for Twitter.

With a commitment to improving the social and academic well-being of Savannah’s neighborhoods, the new Savannah Professional Hockey Team will establish a Good Neighbor program to work with Savannah non-profit community groups to bring a combination of hockey and educational opportunities to all kids in and around the Savannah area.

Oak View Group, the company hired by the City of Savanah to manage and operate the new Savannah Arena, is currently involved in four other new arena construction projects, including the Climate Pledge Arena, home to the National Hockey League’s newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken, the UBS Arena in Belmont Park, NY, the new home of the NHL’s New York Islanders, and the Palm Springs Arena in Palm Springs, CA, the home of the newest AHL franchise.

“This is Savannah’s team!” said Ohrablo. “We are excited to be working closely with the Oak View Group who has a history of love and support for this great sport. We look forward to providing Savannah with a team the City can be proud of and to becoming active members of the City of Savannah.”

“The new Savannah Arena will be a wonderful place for residents from across the southeast to come together and experience top-notch live entertainment,” said Peter Luukko, Chairman, Oak View Group. “Savannah’s new professional hockey team is the first in many terrific events and attractions we will bring to the new Savannah Arena. We look forward to working closely with the City and the hockey team in creating exciting memories for the Savannah region.”

Oak View Group is at the forefront of developing and implementing new protocols to open arenas, stadiums, and convention centers worldwide post-COVID-19. The company established a Venue Reopening Task Force consisting of engineering, health testing, and various mechanical systems and chemical applications to help these venues ensure guests, performers, athletes, and employees can return confidently and comfortably to live entertainment.

The OVG task force was instrumental in ensuring the health and wellness of the 24 teams that competed in the NHL playoff bubble in Toronto and Edmonton in July 2020.

“As we secure live events here for Savannah, it will be important to work with Oak View Group who is leading international discussions on making sure arenas like ours, as well as stadiums, and convention centers, can return to hosting events safely,” added Johnson.

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