After long speculation, consideration, and prayers from fans in the South, it is finally official that not only will Quad Cities be joining the SPHL, but yes, they’ll be hitting the ice in time for October.
In a Press Conference this afternoon from the TaxSlayer Center, Executive Director Scott Mullen officially announced that the SPHL and City of Moline, Illinois have reached an agreement to bring the Southern Professional Hockey League to town.
With this announcement, professional hockey will be suiting up in the Quad-Cities for its 23rd straight season, in its sixth different league. In its 23 years, Quad City has played in the United Hockey League (Mallards, ’95-07), American Hockey League (Flames, ’07-09), International Hockey League (Mallards, ’09-10) Central Hockey League (Mallards, ’10-14) and ECHL (Mallards, ’14-’18), and now they join the ranks of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
As mentioned in my article eight days ago, Quad City SPHL will not compete under the moniker of the Mallards, just the second time in their 23 year history, as that copyright is held by the ECHL, and the league is not selling the title.
Word of the Press Conference became official last night from this tweet from Quad City Times Sports Reporter Bobby Metcalf.
Before following it with a beat piece posted on Quad City Online that simply, and effectively, stated that yes, “Hockey is back!“.
Quad City becomes both the Northern and Western most team in the history of the SPHL, and joins the league as its 11th team. This is the third straight year that the league has welcomed in an expansion team (Birmingham Bulls 2017, Evansville Thunderbolts 2016), and second time in three years that an ECHL team and Midwestern-based team has joined the SPHL (Evansville).
Moline sits right on the edge of Iowa in Illinois, and steals away massive real estate from both the ECHL (the former home of Quad City) and the USHL, who was announced months ago as in contention for the Quad City franchise. Being the third team in the SPHL based in the Midwest, and second in Illinois, Peoria (Ill.) and Evansville (Ind.) get a humongous boost in a geographic, established hockey market.
As you can see from last season’s average attendance charts, Quad City’s 3,450 (top) is just higher than the SPHL’s average franchise attendance (bottom) of 3,215.
Next up for Quad City and the SPHL is naming the franchise, finding a front office staff, an expansion draft, and releasing the official schedule.
The future continues to brighten for the Southern Professional Hockey League, who get an absolute slam dunk in snagging Quad City.
While hockey fans in Moline and surrounding communities may be disappointed being out of affiliated hockey and the ECHL, they have nothing to be upset about, as the SPHL is a league on the rise, and the quality of hockey is fast and fun.
Mason-Dixon Hockey in the Land of Lincoln, y’all.