Coralville area excited about future hockey team at Iowa River Landing

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 10:56 PM CST
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - If the centerpiece of Iowa River Landing is the new Xtream Arena, then Nick Pfeiffer says the arena’s future hockey team will be the centerpiece of the centerpiece.

“What the hockey team brings in is 40 nights of entertainment,” Pfeiffer, the vice president of marketing and communications for Think Iowa City, said. “That’s 40 nights of crowds of up to 5,000 people in one spot, that will bring restaurant traffic, hotel traffic, all of that to the area.”

The team cleared one more hurdle Tuesday on the path to its inaugural season, as the ECHL approved it to join its other 26 squads from around the United States and Canada. Because of that, the Coralville team will be affiliated with an NHL team and compete in AA minor league hockey.

Projections from before the pandemic estimated the arena could bring in around $15 million annually to the area, according to Pfeiffer. The bulk of that money is expected to come from the hockey team, which doesn’t have an official name yet and is currently known as Iowa ECHL.

“The ownership group also owns a team in Newfoundland, Canada, and within their first year, they had an estimated economic impact to the area of around $11 million, in a similar-sized population area,” Pfeiffer said. “So if we could get to that, that would be outstanding.”

Right across the street from Xtream Arena, Brian Flynn, an owner of 30hop, is excited about his future neighbors.

“Even the few events that we’ve seen that have come through — it just activates the whole entire area,” he said.

Flynn said the last 10 months of the pandemic have been difficult for his restaurant.

He also owns another restaurant across the street from the arena, Tribute Eatery & Bar, which just opened in the last few months.

“It’s been kind of a challenge,” Flynn said. “Obviously opening in a pandemic is never the smartest move. We started to do the project before the pandemic and used to time to really make sure we were building it correctly.”

Flynn said he hopes to see fans in both his restaurants before games start — and then back again once they’re over.

“Especially in regards to the team itself, there’s a staff, there’s a lot of people,” he said. “Those guys are going to be living around the area, and being able to partner with them a little bit is going to be fun.”

The Iowa ECHL team is set to start its inaugural season in the fall of 2021.

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