Wicomico County took the first step toward recruiting an ice hockey franchise to the Wicomico Youth & Civic Centeron Friday.
Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver and Jim Calpin, president of Paramount Sports Services, met to sign an agreement during a news conference at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. The agreement authorizes Calpin to bring together an interested ownership group and ice hockey franchise that would be housed in the Civic Center.
Calpin has worked for teams in the United States Hockey League and ECHL, and he has extensive knowledge and connections in the field. Paramount Sports Services is his sports consulting firm, which provides comprehensive services for the business operations of sports franchises.
He’s also familiar with the Delmarva region.
“With regards to looking at the community and looking at the demographic numbers, I feel that it’d be a very, very good fit to have hockey here in this arena,” Calpin said.
This first step in the process comes at no cost to the County. Next steps include finding an appropriate league and an ownership group that would call the Civic Center home and obtaining necessary funding to make building improvements.
Some improvements to the building have already been made. Culver spoke of the Civic Center’s recent progress, including renovations such as new arena seats, painting and floor replacement. The Civic Center also started selling beer and wine in mid-November.
Calpin mentioned two leagues that are on his radar: the Southern Professional Hockey League and the ECHL. Calpin noted that a team could play at the Civic Center as early as October 2018 or possibly 2019 depending on the timing of funding and building improvements that would need to come together.
The ice rink could be used for more than just minor league hockey, including events such as public skates or programs for children.
“We’ll be able to develop youth leagues,” Culver said.
Culver said ice hockey would be an additional asset to the Civic Center – bringing additional nights of events – and would not take away from existing types of entertainment.
“We want to make this a community thing,” he said.