RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After about a decade of having no team, Richmond could soon become a hockey town again.
The ECHL just endorsed locating a team in the new proposed Navy Hill arena.
Richmond hasn’t had a professional hockey team since the 2009 Richmond Renegades. During its time, the team played at the Richmond Coliseum on and off for 16 years.
New prospective team owner Fred Festa says despite having multiple location options in other cities, Richmond is his top choice.
“We got everything here to make this thing a success,” said potential prospective team owner, Fred Festa.
“For years and years and years we’ve came to this building and there’s a lot of great memories,” said Alan Sams, leader of the Facebook group ‘Bring Hockey Back To Richmond.’
Now the building is just that, a memory of good a time but with the $1.5 billion dollar Navy Hill proposal in the works, ECHL just endorsed bringing a hockey team to the proposed arena.
“Ten percent of people who come to hockey are pure hockey fans, and the others come for pure entertainment and they know we’re going to give back to the city,” said Festa.
Festa is the team’s potential owner if the project is to be approved by Richmond City Council. He owned the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in South Carolina from 2012-2018 before selling.
“Over the five years that I look back, we gave over $1 million to Greenville,” said Festa.
In the past, Richmond has had two professional hockey teams and both have failed, but Festa said with his years of experience and the yet-to-be approved downtown development, Richmond makes the perfect destination.
“People came to the old arena, they came, they saw a show and then they left...this is going to be a meeting place where we want people to come to the game, we want them to eat dinner first, we them to stay around and after the game, we want them to go to the local venues,” Festa said.
To be successful, he says he needs support from the local community.
“The ECHL team that was here had about 6,000 people attending," said Festa. “My low bar is 5,000 by my expectation is 7,500.”
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