Utica Comets announced as local AHL team
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - After months of speculation, officials announced that Utica will again be home to a professional hockey team. The Utica Comets will be the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. President of Mohawk Valley Garden Incorporated and former NHL player Rob Esche stood among city officials and other owners as Utica was officially announced as the team's home. The team will play at the Utica Memorial Auditorium and launch for the 2013-2014 season. $5 million of state aid was recently announced to help renovate the AUD which seats 4,000 people. The new franchise brings the number of AHL clubs in New York State to six, joining the Rochester Americans, Syracuse Crunch, Binghamton Senators, Albany Devils and Adirondack Phantoms in the 30-team league. Historically, Utica has been the home to other hockey teams, including the Devils of the AHL and has had teams from the United Hockey League and North Eastern Hockey League. American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews said, “The city of Utica has a rich hockey history and a passionate fan base. We welcome the Comets to the American Hockey League and look forward to returning to the Mohawk Valley.” The team will be owned locally under the management of Mohawk Valley Garden Incorporated, led by Esche and long-time AHL owner Frank DuRoss. Season tickets will go on sale starting Saturday.