The Business of Hockey and why it is Important for Amarillo’s Growth
By Tommy Tee
As most people know, Amarillo now has a permanent ice-skating rink that is open year-round.
The Amarillo Ice Ranch, at 301 South Grant Street, is a state of the art ice facility that will house organized sports events for youth hockey, junior league hockey, and figure skating, in addition to recreational events and various other ice-oriented entertainment.
The Amarillo Ice Ranch started with a dream. A dream that began over 10 years ago when Austin Sutter was made the executive director of the Amarillo Hockey Association Inc. (AHAI). As a result of Sutter’s vision and the help of some outstanding individuals who put it all on the line (Eric Anderson and Chris Wright to name a few) and the support of the hockey community, this dream has become a reality.
Despite the construction of the Amarillo Ice Ranch during the middle of a pandemic and the loss of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) Amarillo Bulls, and as a result of laser-like focus, this incredible facility is open for business.
Why is hockey an important element for the growth of Amarillo?
The business of hockey starts with three men. Sutter, Eric Andersen, Chris Wright, and the hard-working people behind the scenes. In an amazing turn of events, the Amarillo Bulls junior league hockey team relocated to Northern Iowa as Amarillo was left without a junior league team. Without hesitation and with a sense of urgency, these men with the support of Ginger Nelson and the City of Amarillo were able to purchase the Kansas City Scouts from the Hunt family (owners of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs). The Kansas City Scouts have been re-branded as the Amarillo Wranglers.
Ice sports are important for Amarillo
Youth hockey in the state of Texas is the fastest growing team sport and specifically Amarillo has seen a disproportionate growth compared to other sports, in spite of the lack of a full-time skating facility. The Amarillo Ice Ranch will host numerous hockey tournaments, hockey camps, figure-skating competitions, and a figure skating school. This means tax dollars to our community. This facility was constructed privately. Youth hockey players from around the county will want to play here. Families will move to Amarillo because of the Amarillo Ranch.
Youth hockey tournaments within the community will draw people from all over the country. These folks will be staying in Amarillo hotels, eating in local restaurants and shopping at local stores. With the Amarillo Wranglers inclusion into the community, the utilization of the Civic Center as a second sheet of ice during the hockey season translates to much larger tournaments, much larger crowds, more families visiting Amarillo, and more dollars spent in our community.
Amarillo Wranglers “Hockey’s Back Baby”
With the acquisition of the Amarillo Wranglers in conjunction with the support of the City of Amarillo and a seamless relationship between the Amarillo Wranglers and AHAI, the sky is the limit. The community focus that is ingrained in the ownership group of the Amarillo Wranglers is a huge win for the community. The Jersey Auctions, the “hands in the dirt” work that players and personnel will do for nonprofits both on the youth and junior league side is going to be meaningful. The fresh and exciting marketing approach by the Amarillo Wranglers will generate new fans while enhancing the hockey experience of the hardcore hockey fans.
This is why the business of hockey is important for the growth of Amarillo. Please watch for my weekly column during the hockey season as I deliver a unique perspective on the Amarillo Wranglers Hockey Season.