Council approves next step for bringing pro hockey to Reno

The Reno Events Center could be home to a professional hockey team (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

Professional hockey could be coming to Reno.

The city council on Wednesday allowed the RSCVA and Reno Puck Club, LLC to begin negotiations in order to bring a minor league hockey team to Reno.

"Reno is a winter sports market that doesn't have a winter sports team. We talk about the Tahoe region and what goes on in that market, but we need to have a winter sports team here in Reno," said Ken Lehner, Partner with the Reno Puck Club.

The Reno Puck Club is hoping to negotiate a deal with the RSCVA to take over operations and management of the Reno Events Center, which would be home to the ice rink, and invest $5.7 million in improvements.

According to Lehner, the ice would be installed beneath the existing floor to allow the venue to continue to be used for concerts and the Reno Bighorns. They would also invest in other renovations.

"We would have to look at taking out the back end and the north end of the building and [put] in locker rooms for the guys," said Lehner.

During Wednesday's City Council meeting, Mayor Hillary Scheive made it clear money from the city's General Fund would not be used to contribute to the effort. If the Reno Puck Club takes over operation and management of the Reno Events Center, the RSCVA could provide funding in amount to be negotiated, but similar to the RSCVA's current operating costs.

As a venue for hockey, the Reno Events Center would have about 5,300 seats to fill. Investors say there would be about 40 games per year, in addition to other events.

But, their main focus is hockey. The goal is to create a venue with home team advantage.

"There's a low roof there in that building. We think this place will be very loud, and when you some LCD screens and color to the inside of the building, I think we'll make it a tough place to play," said Lehner.

If the deal goes through, Reno's ECHL team would likely partner with an NHL team, perhaps in Las Vegas or San Jose.

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