(photo credit: Jack Lima Photography)

The ECHL Western Conference will get a little smaller yet again (the San Francisco Bulls folded mid-season reducing the Western Conference to 8 teams for this season), in the 2014-2015 season, as the Las Vegas Wranglers will temporarily suspend operations for the season to work out a new arena deal. A unanimous vote by the ECHL Board of Governors granted the Wranglers a voluntary suspension of operations for the upcoming season, while securing a place for the team in the league for 2015-16 and beyond. The team will return for the 2015-16 season and details for a new home arena will be released at a later date.

Earlier this year, the Boyd Gaming Group revealed that they would not renew the teams’ lease at the Orleans Arena, forcing the Wranglers to scramble to figure out a solution in a short amount of time. A new plan was brought forth to house the team on the roof of the Plaza Hotel beneath a tent. The project ended up more pricey than originally expected, leaving Las Vegas in a bind to find a new home for the team in a very limited time window.

“We were given very little time to find a solution for the 2014-15 season,” said Wranglers president and COO Billy Johnson. “We were very close to having everything in order for the 2014-15 season with the little time we had. But in the end, we needed a few weeks more, and the ECHL simply had to get on with its business. We cannot thank the ECHL board enough for giving the Wranglers a chance to see through all that we have accomplished in such a short time. Obviously, they have seen what we are working on. We are all excited.”

Because of a number of confidentiality agreements with future Wranglers partners, the team is still unable to reveal details of where their new home will be, but say the big news today is that the team’s future is secure with the league.

“The only news that matters today is that we are playing in Las Vegas in 2015, and we’re playing in the ECHL.” Johnson said. “Now we have a more appropriate amount of time to do things the best way possible, as opposed to rushing into something that our fans may not ultimately embrace. In this case, a year off is a very good thing for Wranglers fans. This still is ‘my town, my team,’” Johnson said, echoing the public rallying cry when the news first broke in January.

“We are not going anywhere,” Johnson said. “We’ve accomplished a lot since 2003, and come too far since January to turn back.”

A West Coast girl, born and raised in the Bay Area in the most non-traditional Hockey Market you could imagine for a long time... When the Sharks came to town it changed the Bay Area hockey landscape forever. Her first love will always be the Red Wings but she has embraced the Sharks since their debut in 1991. She has a passion for minor league grind-it-out-in the-corners hockey. Her heart broke when the ECHL Bulls folded , but luckily the Stockton Thunder are still close enough for her to get her gritty-hockey fix. Besides watching hockey, she is an American Tribal Style belly-dancer and trolls the blue-line, playing defence in a local rec hockey league... A somehow strange but balanced juxtaposition.


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