Minnesota Whitecaps to make Richfield home

 Minnesota Whitecaps to make Richfield home

 Richfield, Minn. (July 27, 2022) – Big-time skates are heading to the Richfield Ice Arena this fall.

On July 26, the Richfield City Council approved a lease agreement between the Richfield Ice Arena and the Minnesota Whitecaps, Minnesota’s professional-level women’s hockey team.

“We are so lucky to have the Whitecaps making their home in Richfield,” remarked Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez, “and the Whitecaps are lucky too. We have a rich hockey history and are able to offer them a true home with a great local fan base.”

The Whitecaps will kick off their 19th season this fall at the Richfield Ice Arena as part of the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), the professional league for women in the United States and Canada. In addition to the Whitecaps, the league consists of five other teams who compete between November and April.

The team, who previously played in downtown St. Paul, has been looking for home ice where they could have a private locker room and be treated like professional athletes. Since the departure of the Minnesota Magicians franchise this spring, the ice arena has had an opening.

“The Richfield Ice Arena is going to be a great home for the Whitecaps,” affirmed ice arena manager, Kris Weiby. “Our iconic building is the perfect size for their fans and brings a good game experience. Every seat is a good seat.”

For Richfield, the Whitecaps’ focus on women’s leadership, equity and inclusion in the hockey world made them a great fit for the city’s programming and goals.

“Our goal is to give women opportunity at the highest level,” acknowledged Ronda Engelhardt, head coach for the Whitecaps. “Our players bring hard work, commitment and humility to the game, both on and off the ice”.

Equity is a core value for the city and the ice arena, in particular, has put tremendous efforts into broadening its reach to all members of the community.

“Adding the Whitecaps will come alongside the efforts we’ve undertaken to make hockey and ice skating more inclusive and accessible for our community,” said Amy Markle, Recreation Services Director. “We hope the team is ready to get involved and become part of Richfield.”

One way the Whitecaps could get involved is through the robust Learn to Skate program with Richfield Public Schools, where two grade levels are invited to the rink each year to learn to skate. In addition, the arena provides opportunities to learn about skating and hockey through Tickets for Kids and other community events.

Most prominently, the Hockey Niñas also make their home at the Richfield Ice Arena. Earlier this year, Coach Meredith Davis was nominated for the NHL’s Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award for her efforts to make hockey accessible to young women of color.

The ice arena will also benefit from the partnership as well.

“Bringing the Minnesota Whitecaps on board will offer great exposure for Richfield and our ice arena,” stated Markle. “The team has a contract with ESPN and expects to draw up to 1,500 fans per game to Richfield.”

The rental agreement with the Whitecaps will begin this fall. The contract provides for free ice time, and 15 games between October 1 and May 1 for the next three seasons, with opportunities to extend the contract. In addition, the team will hold sole advertising rights in Rink 1 and Rink 2 and will share a portion of advertising and concession revenues with the city.

“Our staff has been great at re-envisioning and revitalizing the ice arena for the future of our community, and we are also home to some amazing women trailblazing in the hockey-space,” noted Regan Gonzalez. “The Whitecaps are joining us at the perfect time.”

The Whitecaps will kick off their season in November. More information at: https://whitecaps.premierhockeyfederation.com/