What’s hockey’s future in Corpus Christi?
According to IceRays officials, it’s the same as its present, as part of the North American Hockey League.
“We’ve got an owner that has been willing to play here even when we’re not in a money-making situation,” said IceRays general manager Michael Wood.
That future was recently unclear. The IceRays home, the American Bank Center raised the team’s rent by $50,000. That’s the first increase since the current team moved to Corpus Christi from Alpena, Mich., in 2010.
“From an operating standpoint we feel much more comfortable that it’s a better balance as far as what the costs are to what we’re able to recover from the IceRays,” said American Bank Center general manager Matt Blasy.
American Bank Center officials asked the city council last week for more Type A money to help offset the cost. The measure passed, 6-3, but later in the week Mayor Joe McComb told KRIS 6 News he believed the request was a misappropriation of funds.
“To subsidize rent on an ongoing operation, I’m not sure that’s what voters approved when they voted for that Type A money,” said McComb.
Wood says he’s aware of McComb’s comments. He was also aware of the American Bank Center’s request to the council. He says neither the building, nor the team, have done anything wrong.
“My understanding is that it’s there to attract and to maintain jobs here in the community,” said Wood of Type A money.
Those jobs include full-time employees of both the IceRays and the American Bank Center, as well as hundreds of game-day workers.
“The value of a main tenant and the impact it has on a facility as well as the community is very important,” said Blasy.
To highlight the IceRays impact on the community, Wood points to the more than 2,000 hours of community service logged by players last year, many of them during Hurricane Harvey recovery.