ECHL expansion to target booming DC hockey market

Artist’s rendition of Dulles World

Rock the Red received a tip from a close to the Loudoun Hounds in the early hours Friday morning, the details of which we were just able to confirm. Late Thursday night, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder met with Ted Leonsis of Monumental Sports & Entertainment to put the finishing touches on a deal that would bring a new hockey club to Loudoun County, possibly as early as the 2011-12 season. The new ECHL franchise, the Dulles Aviators, would practice at the Ashburn Ice House until completion of their facilities adjacent to the Dulles Town Center. The new facility will be accessible by the currently under-construction Silver Line and will be a prominent feature of the planned “Dulles World.”

The Aviators will become the ECHL’s 20th team, adding balance to the Atlantic Division which is the only current division with three teams. Dulles’ geographic proximity to the rest of the leagues’ franchises makes it an desirable location for teams traveling between the Northern and Southern East Coast divisional teams. Additionally, the location could benefit the Hershey Bears, as they would have the opportunity to recall a player from Dulles due to the close proximity rather than from the Capitals’ affiliate in South Carolina. Although the Caps are currently afilliated with the Stingrays through the end of the 2010-11 season, there is no word on what might happen in the future onces the Aviator franchise has been established.

Snyder was quoted as being excited about the opportunity to expand Washington’s growing hockey fan base and market, and is eager to work with Loudon Hounds’ CEO Bob Farren to develop a state-of-the-art IcePlex that is slated to include a multi-million dollar interactive HD scoreboard, several kid and family-centric sections, and an on-site brewery overseen by a local brew master.