Fighting Spirit to relocate to Lewiston, Maine
December 16, 2014
The North American 3 Eastern Hockey League (NA3EHL) has announced that the New Hampshire Fighting Spirit have been granted approval by the NA3EHL Board of Members to relocate to Lewiston, Maine for the 2015-16 season.
The relocation announcement was made on Monday by team owner Rod Simmons, NA3EHL Commissioner Wayne Sheehan and Jim Cain from Firland Management, the management company that oversees and operates the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
The team will be based out of Androscoggin Bank Colisee and will be known as the Lewiston-Auburn Fighting Spirit in 2015-16. The team will complete the 2014-15 season as the New Hampshire Fighting Spirit and relocate once the season in over.
Cain, the owner and operator of Firland Management, the company that owns and operates the arena, said getting the team to sign a longer-term agreement was critical to him. "From a business perspective, we are going to add at least 25 event days a year," Cain said. He said it makes meeting a budget for the facility more realistic. Cain also said he believes the quality of play combined with an affordable ticket price will be well received by a hockey-hungry fan base.
Cain's company has a mortgage with the city of Lewiston to purchase the Colisee and the city has been flexible with payment arrangements in an effort to keep the facility financially viable for the long-term. While it's hard to fully measure the associated economic impact with regularly scheduled hockey at the facility, it is sizable, Cain said. He said with hopes to put 800 fans in the building on game days, the direct economic impact for the facility comes in the form of tickets, parking, food and beverage sales. He estimated a 25-event season, including home games and a tournament for the league, could easily have a $1 million impact each year.
The Androscoggin Bank Colisée (formerly the Central Maine Youth Center) was built in 1958-59. It currently owned and operated by Firland Management, the Arena has a long and proud history of a variety of events. The Maine Nordiques were the primary tenant at the Civic Center from 1973-1977. The Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association played exhibition games at the Civic Center taking advantage of what was at the time the largest portable floor in the world. The Lewiston MAINEiacs, a junior ice hockey team of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and 2006 president cup winners, came to the arena in 2003.
The new team's owner-coach, Rod Simmons, said they wanted a longer-term contract to create stability and a sense of home for the team. The team played in Lake George, N.Y., before moving to Waterville Valley, N.H., and is now in Laconia. Simmons said he believed the team would attract fans because they are usually quite competitive in the league and win quite a bit. "With us, at the risk of sounding arrogant, we've won and have been successful, but we've never really had a home rink since we lost our ice in New York," Simmons said. "So this is really what we've been looking for, and it's really important to us, too."
The NA3EHL features 10 active members, which include: Cape Cod Islanders (Dennis, MA), East Coast Minutemen (Salem, NH), Jersey Shore Wildcats (Point Pleasant Beach, NJ), Lockport Express (Lockport, NY), Maine Wild (Biddeford, ME), New England Stars (Hudson, NH), New Hampshire Fighting Spirit (Laconia, NH), Roc City Royals (Rochester, NY), Syracuse Stampede (Mexico, NY) and Wilkes-Barre Miners (Wilkes-Barre, PA). During the past two seasons, over three-dozen players have committed to NCAA schools.
NA3EHL teams will compete in a 40-game regular season schedule and will take part in two Showcases throughout the 2014-15 season. There will be playoffs to determine a Champion in March of 2015.