The Alaska Aces captured three ECHL titles during their run and created plenty of memories for fans. That’s all they now have, as the Aces will skate somewhere else.
The ECHL announced the sale of the team Thursday to Comcast Spectacor, the parent company of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
Tough night then, and still, for fans, including their former play-by-play man, Kurt Haider.
“I’ll be honest with you, it’s still a bit surreal,” said Kurt Haider, the Aces play-by-play man, “The reality kind of slaps you upside the head– come October when the Aces really aren’t there.”
The sale means the Aces will soon head to their new home at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine. That city has been without minor league hockey since the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League moved to Springfield, Massachusetts in 2016.
“I think it puts some closure to the people of Anchorage, wondering what the future holds with us going dark, I think this puts some finality to it,” said Jerry Mackie, the Aces managing partner.
He said that he and other owners had no choice but to sell.
The Aces averaged about 1,500 fewer per home game this season compared to 2015. Mackie believes the loss of the Aces means the end of professional sports in our state.
“The cost of being a professional sports franchise in Anchorage, Alaska, when everyone you play is in the Lower 48, puts us at a huge, geographical and financial disadvantage,” Mackie told KTVA Sports.
The Aces won their third and final ECHL Championship in 2014. Special time, but, not the only thing Mackie will remember as owner.
“The camaraderie we had with our fans, the relationship with the community, our fan base, and the different players who came and went over those years, I’m going to miss all of that,” said Mackie.
So will the Aces’ fans.
The team will begin play in October 2018– with a new name and mascot. Spectacor manages 300 arenas in the U.S. and Canada, including the Alaska Airlines Center at UAA.