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June 15, 2017

Alaska pro hockey team to skate into Portland

Photo / James McCarthy
Photo / James McCarthy
Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, which lost its professional hockey team last May, will be the new home for the professional hockey team Alaska Aces.

Absent a professional hockey team since May 2016, Portland's Cross Insurance Arena will become home to the Alaska Aces for the 2018-2019 season, the ECHL said today.

They'll start playing in Portland under a new name, according to CSNPhilly.com.

The ECHL, formerly the East Coast Hockey League, approved the transfer of controlling interest in the Alaska Aces to Comcast Spectacor as well as a transfer of the team's home territory to Portland.

The Alaska Aces played 15 seasons at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage until they folded last year under financial pressures. Comcast Spectacor brought them back to life by purchasing them today.

Comcast Spectacor, based in Philadelphia, is the parent of the NHL Philadelphia Flyers as well as Spectra, the management firm that runs the arena. The Portland Pirates had played at the arena for 23 years, but left for Springfield, Mass., in 2016.

Comcast Spectacor was one of two groups — the other being National Sports Services of Topeka, Kansas — that were negotiating for a lease agreement with the arena.

"The city has a long and rich hockey tradition," ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna said in a statement issued from Las Vegas. "In addition, Comcast Spectacor has a history in the market and is an ideal partner to reintroduce professional hockey to Southern Maine."

In 1977, Comcast Spectacor purchased an AHL expansion franchise to play at the then-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.

"We're excited about adding 36 great nights of affordable, family-friendly entertainment to an already vibrant event calendar," said Spectra's Divisional Senior Vice President Mike Scanlon.

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