SPRINGFIELD — Less than a month after losing the Falcons to Tucson, Ariz., hockey could be returning to Springfield for the 2016-17 season.
According to Portland, Maine-based WCSH, the Portland Pirates, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Florida Panthers, has been sold to a new ownership group that intends to relocate the team in Springfield.
According to a statement released yesterday by the team, “the Portland Pirates have announced that a letter of intent has been signed with an outsider buyer to purchase and relocate the AHL franchise to a new city. The details of the agreement were not disclosed, and final sale is pending approval of the AHL board of governors and the Florida Panthers. All previously purchased season tickets for the 2016-17 season will be refunded.”
Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling told WCSH that losing the team “will have a terrible impact on the local economy.”
The Springfield Falcons were purchased by their National Hockey League affiliate, the Arizona Coyotes, in April. The club intends to move the Falcons to Tucson in time for the 2016-17 season, and will refund all advance tickets sold to Springfield fans for that season.
Portland has been the host city to a minor-league hockey team for almost 40 years, dating back to the Maine Mariners, WCSH said. The Mariners left in 1992, and after a one-year gap, the Pirates arrived in 1993.