The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that the Wenatchee Wild, who has been a member of the NAHL for the past five seasons, are relocating their membership to Hidalgo, Texas. The team will be known as the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and play out of the State Farm Arena beginning in the 2013-14 season. The NAHL is the oldest and largest junior hockey league in the United States, with 24 teams representing 13 states.
“We are excited about the move to the Rio Grande Valley and our mission to field a championship-caliber team every season remains the same,” said team President Bill Stewart. “The area has a great hockey tradition and we believe that the region and the surrounding community will embrace and support the NAHL. We intend to keep a priority on being heavily involved in the community and know that the product we put on the ice will be entertaining and in an atmosphere that is family-friendly.”
Stewart said that current Wenatchee Wild head coach Bliss Littler and his staff are expected to be part of the relocation. “We have full intentions right now to bring Coach Littler and his staff with us. They have built us into a National Championship contender and we believe that can continue with the team in the Rio Grande Valley.”
“As we continue to solidify and strengthen our footprint in the South, the Rio Grande Valley and communities of Hidalgo and McAllen have established themselves as those that can fully support an NAHL team,” said Mark Frankenfeld, Commissioner of the North American Hockey League. “We are excited about the local and regional rivalries that will be enhanced by this relocation and look forward to introducing the exciting NAHL brand of hockey to the Rio Grande Valley.”
The Killer Bees will play their home games out of State Farm Arena. The $20-million multi-purpose complex features a 6,800-seat arena that configures up to 5,500-seats for ice hockey, football and soccer and a center stage concert capacity of 6,800-seats. The arena also features 25 suites and 500 club seats. The property also includes 2,200 surface parking spaces on site, as well as a 2,000-square-foot lounge with access from outside of the arena, as well as 1,000-square foot bar and 300-square-foot pro shop. A presentation to and final approval by the USA Hockey junior council is expected in June.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)