Plans for a world-class arena for the Kraken’s AHL franchise revealed

New plans for a privately funded, world-class arena that will be home for the Kraken’s AHL franchise features a more convenient site for Coachella Valley fans and changes the construction timeline, with no slowing down development of future NHL players, reports Bob Condor of NHL Seattle.


Oak View Group and the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation announced plans this week to build a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena for Coachella Valley. The future home of the Seattle Kraken’s American Hockey League (AHL) franchise includes an adjacent training facility and community gathering spaces. The project, to be privately funded and erected on land owned by the foundation, will work with a change in the timeline of completion.


The announcement marks a new direction from a first concept presented in late 2019 that proposed an arena located on 16 acres of tribal land in downtown Palm Springs belonging to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, a federally recognised tribe. The new plan centrally locates the arena to make AHL games and a world-class lineup of musical acts and family entertainment more accessible to fans across the nine cities of Coachella Valley, including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Desert Hot Springs, Indio and Coachella.


Douglass A. Vance, Vice President of Real Estate for the private foundation that has long generously supported educational and other charitable projects in the region, said:

The Berger Foundation has always seen the potential of this property. We prepared the land many years ago for a project exactly like this arena and ancillary businesses and have since been actively seeking developers to create a world-class campus for the Coachella Valley and its visitors.


Groundbreaking and arena construction are scheduled for 2021. The project will be complete during the last quarter of 2022, with the Kraken’s inaugural AHL Palm Springs franchise targeting to begin play in the 2022-23 season. The new arena and complex will be located on 43-plus acres of land at Interstate 10 and Cook Street in Riverside County near the city of Palm Desert. The arena will be more than 300,000 square feet and feature 10,000-plus seats in addition to modern suites and premium hospitality clubs.


The arena and adjacent facility will serve as a year-round community gathering space in addition to the training centre for the AHL team and a future site for youth hockey, figure skating, adult skating and other community-friendly activities.


The arena will be more than 300,000 square feet and feature 10,000-plus seats in addition to modern suites and premium hospitality clubs


Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, said:

After more than a year of good faith negotiations we were unable to finalize an agreement with the Agua Caliente tribal leaders for OVG to lease, develop and operate the privately funded arena. We appreciate the ongoing support and encouragement from the community and are very pleased to be partnering with the Berger Foundation who share our vision for creating a world-class venue for the Coachella Valley and what will be one of the most premier music and professional sports arenas in the world.


Tod Leiweke, Kraken CEO, said:

On behalf of David Bonderman and our ownership group we are excited to share this vision of a championship AHL franchise in a spectacular arena in one of the most beautiful communities. This new arena will offer a great game day experience from parking to puck drop. We will engage our fans in the Valley starting with the Kraken’s launch in 2021 as we sequentially build toward the launch of our AHL franchise.


The Coachella Valley’s remaining ice rink, the Desert Castle in Cathedral City, closed its doors in March with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic after 10 years of operation. The new facility will be a welcome option for area figure skaters to continue to train for high-level competition, along with youth hockey players who currently travel extensively to compete. It’s one of many reasons why Riverside County officials are thrilled at the announcement.


One of the strong benefits of the Berger Foundation site is less travel time for all Valley residents who desire seeing an AHL game, the strong lineup of performers that will be entertaining at the 10,000-seat arena, participate in youth programs or see a family entertainment show. Music plans feature not only concerts but for some bands to use the facility for pre-national tour rehearsals and residencies, which will include multiple appearances at the new arena.


Irving Azoff, co-founder of Oak View Group and a long-time manager of dozens of the world’s top musicians and bands, said:

As a local La Quinta resident, I am excited about having a world-class arena built. The venue will be a major must-play destination for top talent and be the ultimate fan-friendly showcase for both valley’s sports and entertainment attendees.


Live Nation, the world’s leading live entertainment company, will work as a strategic partner and supply the Valley’s new arena with its large stable of top touring artists and premium live events.


Bob Rouz, President of Live Nation, U.S. concerts, said:

We’re proud to work with Oak View Group and the Berger Foundation on what will no doubt be an amazing venue. This new arena creates the opportunity for the whole region to enjoy incredible concerts and our entire touring team is truly excited and looking forward to delivering a significant calendar of annual concert events.


In addition to sports and entertainment, the arena will accommodate conventions, large meetings, international events, award shows and exhibitions at no risk to Riverside County taxpayers. Construction of the new arena is expected to create hundreds of permanent and temporary jobs for the community.


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