With the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth and northern Minnesota's longstanding love affair with hockey, Proctor city councilor Travis White says a new NHL team would be a good fit for the region.
"Hockey is the number one sport in northern Minnesota," White said.
White said he plans to introduce a resolution during the Proctor City Council's meeting Monday to apply for an NHL expansion team.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman recently announced that the Board of Governors is accepting applications through Aug. 10 from groups or markets that are interested in pursuing a new team. White said the Northland would be a prime area for investors to consider for an NHL franchise.
"With the window of opportunity here where the NHL is looking at expanding and the history that we have up here of hockey, it would be a no-brainer," White said.
The proposed resolution is part of White's vision for boosting the region's economy. In May, the Proctor City Council unanimously approved White's resolution to support an NFL team returning to the Twin Ports area. His vision also includes establishing a minor league baseball team in the area.
White said he wasn't planning to introduce a resolution regarding an NHL team at this point, but the Board of Governors' application deadline pushed the issue to the forefront.
Although a lot of people were skeptical about his idea to pursue an NFL franchise, White said many of those skeptics were more accepting of the idea of an NHL team. People took issue with the NFL concept because of the size of the stadium that would be needed, while attendance at professional hockey games is less than football, White explained. The Minnesota Wild's average attendance is around 18,000.
White noted that Minnesota Wild fans travel from around northern Minnesota south to the Twin Cities to see the games - and their money goes into the metro's economy when it could be staying in northern Minnesota. Additionally, it would mean less travel time for fans, he said, pointing out that residents of Grand Forks, N.D., would need to drive 50 miles less if they were going to Proctor than Minneapolis.
White also plans to introduce a resolution Monday to support a venue if Proctor becomes home to a new NHL franchise.
The venue would also give the region another location to host events like concerts - and possibly a chance to host the Minnesota state boys high school hockey tournament that had a record attendance of 135,000 fans this year, White said.