Evansville Icemen owner and president Ron Geary announced Thursday the franchise will move to the ECHL or East Coast Hockey League. That means more games at the Ford Center and more people going downtown.
The Icemen will become a Double-A affiliate hockey team beginning next season, providing a pipeline for players to the NHL. But if you ask officials and business owners downtown, this is a major league move.
From blue line to blue line, there is momentum on the ice. But for the Evansville Icemen and their move to the ECHL, there could be momentum on Main Street.
"We've made a 10 year committment now," said Icemen owner and president Ron Geary. "We think our changing leagues is over with and we think we've gotten to where we want to be."
"What we try to do is offer an exciting, uptempo, and affordable form of entertainment," said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. "It just happens to be hockey but we are in the entertainment business."
For those who make a living off of this entertainment business, this move comes like a puck in the back of the net. While the Icemen move up to a bigger, better league, officials hope they bring Main Street along with them.
"First of all, there will be more home games," said Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke. "There will be more opportunities to come downtown to the shops, stores, restaurants and bars. That can only help the city. The fact that it is a more competitive league, I think it will bring more people into the stands."
"There will be more speed on the ice, more fighting," said Back State Bar and Grill Owner Nick Byers. "There will be more fans so I think it's going to be great things to come."
While the Icemen will be the new kids on the block in the ECHL, their move could help another new kid on the block, the Back Stage Bar and Grill located on Main Street.
"Them being there with all their games going on really makes things great here," said Back Stage Bar and Grill Owner Nick Byers. "We're just looking forward to it."
From the corner office to the corner bar and from the main gate to the back stage, there is momentum on Main Street.
The Icemen averaged 4900 people a game last season, 4th in the league. Ticket prices will largely remain the same next season which kicks off in October.