The State Fairgrounds has been the hub of Indianapolis’ long hockey history dating back to 1939 when the Coliseum first opened and the Indianapolis Capitals began the first of their 13 seasons in the International American Hockey League. The building subsequently housed the Indianapolis Chiefs, Racers, Checkers and Ice for various durations in a variety of professional leagues from 1955 – 2004. The Indiana Ice, an amateur team playing in the United States Hockey League, called the Coliseum home from 2004 – 2012 when the renovation began, but ultimately decided not to return to the Coliseum after the renovation is completed.
That decision eventually led the commission to Hallett and the ECHL. Hockey’s premier “AA” league, the ECHL not only offers Ft. Wayne as a natural regional rival, but it also has franchises in nearby Evansville, Cincinnati and Toledo. Overall, it currently has 22 teams located throughout the country and is responsible for sending more than 500 players to the National Hockey League since its inception in 1988.
“Indianapolis has an international reputation as a great sports town, and we’re confident it will once again be a great hockey town,” ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna said. “With an exceptional ownership group led by Jim Hallett, a brand new venue and a proud hockey tradition, we couldn’t be happier to expand the ECHL to Central Indiana.”
The ECHL has long been known for its high quality hockey that is also an affordable family experience. A recent survey commissioned by the State Fairgrounds indicates great public support for affordable, family friendly pro sports events in the new Coliseum, which has everyone involved excited about the new team’s long term outlook.
“I spent many years watching my son’s hockey games in the Coliseum and know what a devoted fan base there is for hockey and the Coliseum,” State Fairgrounds Executive Director Cindy Hoye said. “To have a brand new professional team ready to reenergize these fans inside a first-class facility that is still connected to its 75-year history is going to be fun.”