Solar Bears to Make ECHL Comeback in Orlando

Filed under: Orlando Events,Sport |

The ECHL announced on Tuesday that the Board of Governors has unanimously approved the Expansion Membership application of Orlando for admission to the ECHL.

Orlando will begin play in October 2012 when the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League will celebrate its 25th season, making it the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.

The Orlando membership is owned by Orlando Pro Hockey Operations, L.P., an entity controlled by Joe Haleski, Bob Ohrablo and Jason Siegel. The team will play its home games at Amway Center, which is also home to the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association, located in downtown Orlando.

Opened in the fall of 2010, the facility is owned and operated by the City of Orlando on behalf of the Central Florida Community. The Amway Center was designed to reflect the character of the community, meet the goals of the users and build on the legacy of sports and entertainment in Orlando. The building features a sustainable, environmentally-friendly design and unmatched technology featuring 1,100 digital monitors and the largest high-definition scoreboard in an NBA venue, and multiple premium amenities available to all patrons in the building.

“We are pleased to welcome Orlando to the ECHL,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “The combination of a strong market, a world-class sports facility in the Amway Center and a strong ownership group led by Joe Haleski, make this a very welcome addition to our southern geography. With decades of combined experience, this seasoned management group is well suited for the challenge of starting and operating a successful team in this major market over the long term.”

“On behalf of our partners, we are excited to be able to bring professional hockey back to Orlando and Central Florida,” said Bob Ohrablo, Managing Partner of Orlando Pro Hockey Operations, L.P. “We look forward to thousands of fans joining us in downtown Orlando for each home game at the Amway Center. We will provide an exciting team in a fun atmosphere at family-affordable prices.

“We would like to thank Mayor Buddy Dyer; the City Council; the ECHL, including Commissioner Brian McKenna and Board of Governors; the Amway Center management team; the Orlando Magic and the RDV Sportsplex for working with us to make this happen.”

“I am excited that the City of Orlando will once again be home to professional hockey,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “The new Amway Center was designed with the goal of adding a hockey team and features amenities specific to hockey. We look forward to showcasing the new state-of-the-art Amway Center to hockey fans here in Central Florida and giving them an experience they will never forget.”

“This is a big deal and I’m delighted the first puck drop is less than a year away,” said Orlando Venues Executive Director Allen Johnson. “Having professional hockey back in Orlando will undoubtedly bring much excitement, draw new audiences and generate additional revenue for the Amway Center.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased to learn that Jason and his partners are bringing hockey back to the Orlando marketplace,” said Lou Lamoriello, President/CEO/General Manager of the New Jersey Devils. “In his six-plus years of employment with the Devils’ organization, Jason distinguished himself in every phase of his job responsibilities. Throughout our association, I was more than impressed with his work-ethic, leadership and integrity. I wish him well with his new venture.”

“Bob Ohrablo has a unique ability to learn a client’s business, then develop and execute a sponsorship program which directly meets their goals and objectives,” said Howard Dolgon, Owner/President/CEO of the Syracuse Crunch. “He is a tireless worker who never settles for mediocrity or second best.”

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