The Chicago Blackhawks announced on Tuesday that they would be making a change in their East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) affiliate, revealing that they would be signing a five-year affiliation agreement with the Indy Fuel.
The Blackhawks had spent the previous five seasons with their prospects heading to the Toledo Walleye. The Fuel, who play their games at the Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, are an expansion team who will begin play in the fall of 2014.
“We are excited to begin this new partnership with the Indy Fuel,” said Mark Bernard, the Blackhawks’ general manager of minor league affiliations. “The Blackhawks and the city of Indianapolis have a history of developing many players that have had successful National Hockey League careers, and we look forward to doing the same with the Fuel and our deep group of talented prospects.”
Part of that history of hockey in Indianapolis features the Racers, a team in the World Hockey Association. Even though they only existed for five seasons, they were the first professional stop for legendary players like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier before they went on to the bigger stage of the NHL.
The Pepsi Coliseum, where the Fuel will play their home games, is in the midst of a massive $63 million renovation. According to the team’s website, the arena is the only venue in the state of Indiana to have hosted The Beatles, when they played a concert there in 1964.
Here is a video detailing the renovation: