Comcast Spectacor, the parent company of Spectra and the Philadelphia Flyers, announced today it has purchased the Alaska Aces ECHL franchise and will relocate the team to the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, ME. The yet-to-be-named team will begin play with the 2018-19 season.
Spectra offers a network of integrated services to hundreds of public assembly facilities, primarily in North America. In Portland, Spectra provides Venue Management, Food Services & Hospitality and Corporate Partnerships to the Cross Insurance Arena.
The relocation of Comcast Spectacor’s newly acquired ECHL franchise will create 36 home regular-season games and potential playoff dates for Portland’s venue, as well as numerous marketing and sponsorship opportunities for local businesses. The new franchise’s business operations will be run by the Flyers organization. Flyers President Paul Holmgren will serve as the team’s governor, and former Flyer Danny Briere will oversee the day-to-day operations of the club.
While Comcast Spectacor will seek a National Hockey League (NHL) affiliation for the team, it is not anticipated to include prospects whose NHL rights are currently held by the Flyers. The Flyers have an active ECHL affiliation with the Reading Royals that is unaffected by this transaction. The new team’s roster will mirror that of many other ECHL teams in that most of the players will be under contract to the team itself, and will be recruited and signed by the team’s own hockey operations staff. Players will enjoy state-of-the-art locker room and training facilities thanks to an 18-month, $33 million renovation of Cross Insurance Arena that was completed in 2014.
"We are excited to reignite the hockey tradition in Portland," said Holmgren. "The Flyers organization has a strong commitment to winning and developing future stars, and we intend to bring that same culture to this franchise. We’re also happy to have an opportunity to assist Spectra in its commitment to the Portland region and the Cross Insurance Arena, a great facility that has recently benefited from a major renovation."
"This is a great day for sports fans here in Portland," said Spectra’s Mike Scanlon, Divisional Senior Vice President. "We would like to thank Cumberland County, the Cross Insurance Arena Board of Trustees, the City of Portland, for their support in helping us to bring a hockey team back to the Cross Insurance Arena. We’re excited about adding 36 great nights of affordable, family-friendly entertainment to an already vibrant event calendar."
Comcast Spectacor is part of Portland’s rich hockey history. In 1977, the company purchased an AHL expansion franchise to play at the then-brand-new Cumberland County Civic Center. The Maine Mariners were a Flyers affiliate until 1983 and played in Portland through 1992, when they were replaced by the Portland Pirates. The Mariners won the Calder Cup in each of their first two seasons, and added a third in 1983-84.
With the acquisition of the Portland franchise, Comcast Spectacor continues to invest strategically in minor league hockey. For the past four seasons, the Flyers have run the business operations for the Hartford Wolf Pack, an American Hockey League franchise owned by and affiliated with the New York Rangers. The Wolf Pack are the primary tenant of Hartford’s XL Center, where Spectra also provides Venue Management, Food Services & Hospitality and Corporate Partnerships. From 1996 to 2009, Comcast Spectacor founded and owned the Philadelphia Phantoms AHL franchise, which currently plays at the Spectra-managed PPL Center in Allentown, PA.
Portland’s entry into the ECHL rekindles fierce New England rivalries with previous AHL cities that now compete in the ECHL, including the Manchester (NH) Monarchs, and the Worcester (MA) Railers.
Comcast Spectacor will shortly begin the process of hiring a staff, establishing a team website for ticket information, and conducting initial steps that will include naming the team. More information will be announced as it becomes available in the coming weeks.
Comcast Spectacor is part of Comcast Corporation, a global media and technology company that operates Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Comcast Spectacor’s three core businesses are the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center Complex, and Spectra, a leader in hosting and entertainment services specializing in Venue Management, Food Services & Hospitality and Corporate Partnerships. Spectra provides its services at over 300 public assembly facilities in the United States, Canada, and in Singapore. Visit us at ComcastSpectacor.com for more information.