From left: Timm Smith, sales manager, Micolette Pena, director of marketing, Lee Brand, Fresno mayor, Kevin Kaminski, coach, Jeff Blair, team owner, Jimmy Cerracchio, president and CEO Downtown Fresno Partnership, James Karr, director of operations, Brandon Bullet, strength and conditioning coach

published on July 24, 2018 - 4:00 PM
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On a 105-degree day, ice was the word around town.

The Fresno Monsters hockey team announced an agreement with the City of Fresno on Tuesday to return to Selland Arena for the 2018-19 season.

The amateur team will play 21 games over seven weekends between October and January 2019.

With theme events ranging from Star Wars night to rodeo night and Oakland blackout night, the goal for the hockey team will be to provide “quality, affordable sports entertainment,” said team owner Jeff Blair.

The team will leave its current home of the Gateway Ice Center in Fresno.

As part of the agreement, the team will cover the cost of setting up and taking down the ice as well as the cost of operating the facility, according to Mark Standriff, director of communications for the City of Fresno.

The city will collect revenues off of concessions as well as money from an entertainment fee on ticket sales tacked onto events like baseball and soccer games and events at Selland Arena.

“If this event can at least pay itself off and not cost the city any money, and it makes fiscal sense for the team, then I’m all for it,” said Fresno Mayor Lee Brand. He went on to say he was originally skeptical of a long-term deal following the city’s history with the Fresno Falcons, the minor league hockey team that folded in the late 2000s due to declining revenues. The team folded soon after the city shelled out millions of dollars for renovations to Selland Arena.

One hope is that games will bring more foot traffic to Downtown Fresno for the area’s restaurants and breweries.

“It’s good news for sports fans and it’s also good news for restaurants and breweries that are popping up all over downtown,” said Brand.

This would be a return for the Fresno Monsters following a five-year hiatus after the 2012-13 season. Following that, the team had been at Gateway Ice Center.

“Gateway is a very small rink and seating options are not in abundance,” said James Karr, director of operations for the Monsters. There, they were “packing the house” and averaging 500-600 people on a Saturday night.

It was in 2017 that team management approached the city about a three-game series in February as a sort-of practice run.

Over three nights, 12,000 people filled the seats, with 2,000 on Thursday, 4,500 on Friday and over 5,000 on Saturday, according to Karr. Selland Arena can seat 7,600 for hockey.

“That was our test to see if hockey could be viable in Fresno again,” said Karr.

The season begins in September and the first home game will be played in October. Tickets are available by calling (559) 549-4TIX (4849).

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