Eau Claire (WQOW) -- Eau Claire has a long tradition of youth, high school, and college hockey. Now, another level of the sport may be coming to town.
Several reports over the summer said the North American Hockey League was exploring the possibility of bringing an expansion franchise to Eau Claire. Tuesday, the Let's Play Hockey newspaper tweeted that a preliminary agreement has been made which would place an NAHL team in Eau Claire for the 2016-17 season.
Hobbs Ice Center facility manager Pat Newkirk says that discussions with a potential NAHL ownership group have been ongoing for the last year.
"We're at a point where they have people looking over what we've gone back and forth on, and we are waiting to hear back from them at that point," Newkirk says, "one of the things that they're looking for is a dedicated home in the building, and that's locker room and training room space, so that's one of the things we've been working on is trying to figure out where they would physically live here at Hobbs so that that's been probably the biggest topic of discussion."
Assuming the NAHL approves of the agreement with Hobbs Ice Center, the next step in the process would be to get approval from the Eau Claire city council.
The NAHL is celebrating its 40th anniversary season. The league has 22 teams spread among 10 states across North America, including three teams in Minnesota, and two in Wisconsin. There are a number of Eau Claire products playing in the NAHL this season: Jake Bresser (Janesville Jets), Phil Erickson (Coulee Region Chill), and Braxton Collins (Minnesota Magicians).