CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and the SMG managed American Bank Center announced a new initiative to help the city of Corpus Christi earn the title of Kraft Hockeyville at a press conference this afternoon at the American Bank Center. The push hopes to bring new attention to the city of Corpus Christi, celebrating its passion and history of hockey over the past two decades while providing opportunities for national attention to the city.
“We’ve been searching for a way to find the ultimate way to say thank you to a loving, devoted hockey community and provide a great opportunity for the city of Corpus Christi while finding more ways to share our passion,” said Collin Schuck, IceRays Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations. “So, we sat down with the staff at SMG within the American Bank Center and put our heads together on this new initiative that both parties feel can showcase the strength of hockey in Corpus Christi and the unity within our city limits.”
Kraft Hockeyville a nationwide competition hosted by Kraft and the National Hockey League (NHL) to search for the most passionate hockey communities in the United States of America. The idea began over ten years ago in Canada with the premise that “hockey builds community, and community builds hockey.” Kraft Hockeyville has contributed over two million dollars to local communities across Canada and now the U.S.A. The winning community earns $150,000 in arena upgrades, a NHL pre-season game, and the title of “Kraft Hockeyville.” Last year, the city of Johnstown, Penn., was crowned Kraft Hockeyville in the inaugural competition in the U.S.A.
The IceRays have become part of the fabric in Corpus Christi since the team’s introduction in 1998, starting from teaching young kids and adults the basics of street hockey in local parks and raucous crowds in the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL) to helping build homes and revitalize the city to aiding the fight of a little girl with cancer and sharing a message of hope and love with the city and the hockey community. While hockey is the main product of the organization, the IceRays have shared a “community first” approach in not only catering to the hopes and needs of individuals and groups but keeping the great people of Corpus Christi at the forefront of the organization’s entertainment. The IceRays have seen many people come and go through their doors over the last 18 years, but one thing always remains: the passion, the enthusiasm, the love and the support shared by those individuals, groups and organizations in every interaction both in the arena and around the city.
“We are excited, and there’s no doubt in my mind that come April we will be named Kraft Hockeyville,” said IceRays general manager Pat Dunn. “There’s no doubt in my mind that this passionate community here will rally behind us and help us get nominated to the next stage. Whatever your story may be, we need the Corpus Christi community to go out and share their stories. We want it to grow hockey and give back to the community.”
The move into the American Bank Center in 2004 brought about greater opportunities for the organization, the city, and the sport of hockey. In that time, the IceRays have seen record crowds as members of the Central Hockey League (CHL) and now the North American Hockey League (NAHL), averaging 3,000 fans over the last five and a half seasons while being one of the leaders and trailblazers in the league. The sport has grown in numerous ways outside of just attendance: the youth hockey and learn to skate programs, the adult hockey league, and the interest in the game itself as well as the entertainment provided at the American Bank Center. The IceRays have seen players formerly in professional and junior hockey make it to the National Hockey League (NHL), including Ryan Garbutt, Pheonix Copley, and Anthony Stolarz as well as the spark in the newest hockey fans each and every home game.
“The partnership that we’ve had with the IceRays over these past few years has been amazing,” said SMG marketing & media relations manager Kristen Bily. “The IceRays are truly a class-act organization, and it’s such a pleasure to have them as one of our anchor tenants. The IceRays have managed to make hockey work in South Texas for over 18 years, and that is something truly impressive. The benefit of having an NHL game would be a great accomplishment not only for the American Bank Center but also the city of Corpus Christi. We encourage everybody to start voting and support this.”
To get involved and help in the initiative, community members are urged log on to either KraftHockeyville.com or AmericanBankCenter.com/voteicerays, submit an essay and photo to nominate the American Bank Center, sharing their hockey experiences in Corpus Christi with the selection committee, and spreading the message to friends and family. The nomination period ends March 11, and the committee determines the top-10 communities. The competition continues into swift, rapid voting stages until two communities remain and the winner is announced live on national television during a NHL game.
Founded in 1977, SMG provides management services to more than 230 public assembly facilities including convention and exhibition centers, arenas, stadiums, theaters, performing arts centers, equestrian facilities, science centers and a variety of other venues. With facilities across the globe, SMG manages more than 15 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 1.5 million sports and entertainment seats. As the recognized global industry leader, SMG provides venue management, sales, marketing, event booking and programming, construction and design consulting, and pre-opening services for such landmark facilities as McCormick Place & Solider Field in Chicago, Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Houston’s NRG Park and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. SMG also offers food and beverage operations through its concessions and catering company SAVOR, currently serving more than 130 accounts worldwide. SMG managed American Bank Center is Corpus Christi’s premier event center. Follow us online at www.Americanbankcenter.com, facebook.com/AmericanBankCenter, twitter.com/AmericanBankCtr, on Instagram @americanbankcenter, and Tumblr @AmericanBankCenter.
The IceRays begin their final two-game weekend set against at the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday, Feb. 19 at 7:05 p.m. against the Amarillo Bulls. The IceRays come back to the American Bank Center on Friday, Feb. 26 at 7:11 p.m. to begin a two-game set against the Odessa Jackalopes. Contact the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK or go to www.goicerays.com for details on season tickets along with pricing and seating. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).