Xtream Arena in Coralville adding an ECHL team

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 10:28 PM CDT
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - It’s been a memorable 10 days for Coralville city and Xtream Arena leaders. The arena is now open to the public, and on Thursday, leaders announced the addition of a hockey team from the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).

“This is something that we’ve been working on for many, many years and we’re excited to be at this point,” said Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth.

The new ownership is led by Dean MacDonald, who’s the owner of Deacon Sports and Entertainment. This isn’t his first rodeo in the hockey business. This will be his third ECHL franchise. He brought the Newfoundland Growlers to the league last year and the team won the Kelly Cup. Iowa doesn’t have any sanctioned high school or college hockey, but MacDonald feels there’s a place for hockey in Coralville.

“You’re on the doorstep at the University of Iowa,” he said. “Regardless of what sport, it is kind of a sports-crazy area, which is kind of exciting and fun. It just has a really cool vibe about it.”

The ECHL is considered the “Double-A” in the minor league hockey system. Players then move up to the American Hockey League (AHL) and eventually could be called up to the National Hockey League (NHL). Nearly 700 ECHL players have gone on to play in the NHL.

“We’ve had a couple of players from the Growlers move up to the Toronto Maple Leafs and play games," said MacDonald. "So it’s a really exciting brand of hockey.”

There’s still many steps that have to be taken, including a league vote to add the team, as well as a team name and an NHL affiliate. The team won’t play until the 2021-22 season.

“The thing that I absolutely adore about your city is you have such a good vibe," said MacDonald. "So, in my mind, the priority is set very high for us, in terms of providing entertainment.”

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