Roughly one week after receiving word that the Federal Prospects Hockey League was close to adding a 10th team for the potential 2020-21 season, multiple independent sources have confirmed to Bus League Hockey that the the FPHL may not be done there, and are close to finalizing the addition of a team at the Hockeyland Arena in Fraser, Michigan for the 2020-21 season as well.
Sources first confirmed to BLH that a team was in the works on Sunday, and more details emerged on Tuesday that the franchise was close to being finalized. Those same sources said that the team will feature a new owner who doesn’t currently own a team in the FPHL, and that a head coach, who has minor league head coaching experience, has been selected.
The sources also confirmed that the team is hoping to start in time for this coming fall, but that plan could change if the current issues with the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t situated by the fall.
If a deal is reached, it would be a fantastic arena and market for the FPHL. Fraser was previously home to the Motor City Mechanics over two seasons from 2004 to 2006, then hosted two teams over the course of two years in the short-lived AAHL, and since 2015 has been home to the Metro Jets junior hockey teams of the NA3HL, and now the USPHL. The main arena in the Hockeyland complex holds approximately 3,400 people. The complex as a whole features five ice rinks, and plenty of locker rooms, as well as a pro shop.
Reportedly, the team has agreed in principal to a very affordable lease, which is helped by the USPHL teams that continue to play there.
More recently, the rink was the planned home rink/hub for the ill-fated Interstate Hockey League, hosting their tryouts last summer before the league collapsed without ever taking the ice for a real game.
For those not familiar with the Fraser area, the actual town itself is around 15,000 people, located just minutes from downtown Detroit, and sits in Macomb County, which is home to more than 850,000 people, so there will certainly be plenty of people, and businesses to potentially draw from, if they are at all interested in low pro hockey with the Red Wings so close.
Honestly, if the league does in fact add this team in Fraser, it’s a fantastic get, and a very solid northern market that would help the teams in Port Huron, Danville, and Mentor a ton with travel. We at BLH have said for a long while that the Fed should put a team there, because of its proximity to other teams, large population base, and an arena that is the perfect size for the FPHL.
The only drawbacks and worries, are if fans will come to watch this new team, and if there is enough time for them to market the team to build a fanbase and sponsor base.
Back when the UHL Mechanics were in town, they averaged around 1,700 fans a night over those two seasons, one of which included having five NHL players suit-up for them during the 2004-05 NHL lockout. So even without NHL hockey being played, and with NHL players on the roster, the arena was barely half full, despite the more than 850k people living in the arena. But the Fed is a different animal than the UHL, and if this new rumored team can come anywhere close to that 1,700 mark, or even just get over 1,000 per game, it should be enough to keep them going for a while.
As for timeline, as we mentioned in our other expansion piece, Battle Creek was announced on July 23, so if this team happens, they should have no worse than the same amount of time as the Bees had. But it does raise the question of what this means for a potential expansion draft, and if they’ll have to share with the other rumored expansion team.
It also brings up the question of if the Fed may add a 3rd team this off-season. Because if this team in Fraser gets added, and the other team in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Virginia also gets added, that’s 11 teams, and creates a whole bunch of problems for scheduling. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on going forward.
So after an off-season that had been quiet due to COVID concerns, things have heated up for the FPHL, and a team in Fraser could be a big addition for the Fed. We’ll keep you updated with any new information we hear regarding the team.