Oak View Group and the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation announced today, their mission to build a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena for Coachella Valley. The facility will house the Seattle Kraken’s AHL franchise, as well as a training facility and community gathering spaces. The project will be privately funded and is to be constructed on land owned by the foundation.
Today’s announcement brings a change to the initial plan outlined in 2019 which proposed an arena located on tribal land in downtown Palm Springs. The new location will allow for fan access across all nine cities of the Coachella Valely for AHL games as well as concerts and other events taking place at the arena.
The arena construction is scheduled for 2021 which alters the timeline of having an AHL affiliate hit the ice for the Krakens inaugural season. With the project set to be completed in the last quarter of 2022, the AHL team won’t begin play until the 2022-23 season. General manager Ron Francis and assistant GM Ricky Olczyk are exploring all options for finding other competition options for a certain number of reserve players during the 2021-22 NHL season.
One option is to follow the path of the Vegas Golden Knights and share an affiliate to house their AHL players during the construction process.
All 18 and 19-year-old players that are selected during the 2021 NHL draft, and who don’t make the NHL roster, are required to return to their junior, college, or European teams.
The Kraken will maintain development control of any players sent to a shared affiliate, should that happen. However, they will not have control over systems used or playing time until a team takes the ice in their own facility.