Ice Bats fly to Chaparral Ice Center
The Austin Ice Bats of the Central Hockey League today announced that the team will play in a new arena next season, making Chaparral Ice Center its new home rink. The Ice Bats will vacate the Travis County Expo Center, the team's home arena for the first ten years of franchise play. Chaparral Ice Center, located on I-35 South just south of Wells Branch Parkway, will host Ice Bats home games beginning with the 2006 President's Cup Playoffs, should the team qualify for post-season play. Permanent seating will be installed to bring the building's capacity to close to 2,000 fans.
Because of the unavailability of the Expo Center, the Ice Bats played four playoff games at Chaparral Ice in 2003, hosting New Mexico and Laredo en route to the President's Cup Finals. "Anyone who was there for those series can tell you what an electric atmosphere it was," said Ice Bats President Jeff Buch. "The fans are right on top of the action. It's fun, it's loud, it's exciting and it's an intimidating place for opponents to play. We plan to capture that kind of environment again." Following the current season, the Ice Bats will undertake several major improvements to Chaparral Ice Center, including a renovated club area upstairs overlooking the ice and an expanded concession area downstairs.
Buch said scheduling conflicts with the Expo Center were again a primary consideration for the move. "In discussions with Travis County, they indicated that while they were happy to have us remain as a tenant, a number of additional weekend events are planned for the building next season, forcing us to remove and replace the ice on several occasions. As it stands now, we only have the building for four months out of a five-month season because of the Rodeo. So in addition to the added expense and logistical concerns created, the loss of even more quality dates on which to play would make it impractical to continue doing business at the Expo Center."
Beyond the availability of crucial game dates, Buch said Chaparral Ice has additional advantages. "For one, the arena's location is far superior to that of the Expo Center," Buch said. "Chaparral Ice is right on I-35, centrally located and accessible. It's a much newer facility. From a competitive standpoint, we'll no longer have to have to spend the last month of our season, our "playoff drive," playing on the road. And we'll be able to offer our corporate partners year-round display of their message, as opposed to a four-month window to reach our fans." Chaparral Ice will remain the team's home arena until construction is complete on a new facility, currently under study. "We've had discussions with a number of different communities and entities about building a new arena," Buch said. "And while there's no timetable, I can tell you that if we were at this stage two years ago, I'd have been thrilled then. That's how far along we are in the process."
The Ice Bats return to play this weekend at the Travis County Expo Center, hosting Colorado Friday night at 7:30pm and Laredo Sunday at 4pm. A portion of ticket proceeds from Friday's game will benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the fight against breast cancer. Also, the second set of Ice Bats trading cards will go to 3,000 fans. On Sunday, youth jerseys go to the first 1,000 fans age 13 and under, and a post-game skate with the Ice Bats players follows the contest. The Bats will then play just twice more at the Expo Center, on Tuesday, Feb. 21st and Saturday, Feb. 25th, with a couple of additional home games scheduled for March 17th and 18th at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.
Tickets for Ice Bats home games are on sale now through the Ice Bats office at 927-PUCK, or at any Texas Box Office location, including all Austin-area HEB stores. For on-line orders, fans may visit www.TexasBoxOffice.com or www.GetTix.Net. To charge by phone, fans may call the Ice Bats ticket office at 927-PUCK, Texas Box Office at (512) 477-6060, or Get Tix at 1-866-4-Get Tix.
Individual game tickets range in price from $11 to $35, depending on section, with discounted rates for groups of 15 or more. In addition to individual game tickets and group outings, season tickets and corporate partnerships are currently available for the upcoming season, with full-season, half-season and 10-game ticket packages on sale now. Fans may call the Ice Bats ticket office at (512) 927-PUCK, or log onto the team's website at www.icebats.com for more information.
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