Independence, hockey franchise agreement could be formalized by April 6 to being an anchor tenant to the Independence Events Center.
Negotiations are entering the final stages of a lease agreement with a hockey franchise for the Independence Events Arena.
An agreement could be formalized at the Independence City Council meeting as soon as April 6.
The Examiner has learned that an ownership group is being formed and a team president is in place. The new franchise is planning on temporary office space on the Independence Square until construction of the arena is completed.
The hockey team would have the city name of Independence attached to the franchise and would compete in the Northern Conference of the Central Hockey League starting this fall. A tenative home opener has been scheduled for Nov. 13-14.
The lease agreement is being negotiated between the city, Global Entertainment, which manages the arena and owns the Central Hockey League, and new franchise president Brad Lund, who is representing ownership.
“While the lease process does not happen overnight, the city and Global have both been a delight to work with, and we look foward to reaching agreement soon,” Lund said.
Independence City Manager Robert Heacock also expressed optimism a deal would soon be in place.
“We are hopeful to have that agreement by April 6 and then a separate signing ceremony on April 7,” Heacock said. “It is important for the arena’s reputation and operation to start with a hockey franchise, and that was something we talked about from the start. We feel good about how things are progressing.”
If the agreement is finalized, Independence’s franchise will be an expansion team and will be led by one of the Central Hockey League’s most successful executives. Lund was the general manager, president and CEO of the Oklahoma City Blazers, one of the league’s top franchises, for the last 16 seasons.
Lund said he was drawn to this opportunity because of the quality of the arena and the area.
“When I came up here, I saw this arena, and I thought this the best opportunity for a minor-league hockey franchise that I have ever seen,” he said. “I have seen a lot of arenas around the country, and this one is on another level. I think this is going to turn this community upside down and people here are going to get excited.”
The ownership group is led by twin brothers Mark and Mike Adams of Lubbock, Tex., who formerly owned the Lubbock Cotton Kings franchise. Lund said the team is also looking into adding local ownership to the group, but that is still a work in progress.
In the meantime, Lund along with Independence’s Bob Rennison, who Lund calls his right-hand man, will soon set up office above the old Coffee House on Main Street on the Independence Square with the help of Ken McClain.
“I’ve helped them look for locations on the Square, and we’re pleased they have located there,” McClain said.
Lund said the hockey franchise would draw from the entire Kansas City area, but its main base would come from Independence and the rest of Eastern Jackson County. He is planning on a public mascot naming contest and is looking for names appropriate to Independence and this region.
He said the quality of play in the league is high.
“I love this level of play (AA),” he said. “Some of these players will play in the NHL. These are all elite players who have very high skill levels. It is exciting hockey.”