AboutHow the IceCaps came to be
The story of the IceCaps begins in Winnipeg in early 2011, where negotiations were underway to bring the NHL back to that city. But for the NHL to return to Winnipeg it would mean the Manitoba Moose would have to move. It was in that move that Stanford saw an opportunity to bring AHL hockey back to Newfoundland. He called former Maple Leafs vice chairman Danny Williams, a now-former provincial Premier who was arguably one of the popular political leaders in the province’s history. The two men talked and a plan was put together to bring hockey back to St. John’s. It was partly a business decision, and partly a decision made out of a desire to see pro hockey return to Newfoundland.
“There was no question in my mind that AHL hockey would be successful,” said St. John’s IceCaps Chief Operating Officer Glenn Stanford of the decision to bring an American Hockey League team to St. John’s. But there remained a small problem: the pair still had to convince the Winnipeg Jets NHL team that St. John’s should be the new home for their farm team, and they had to convince the AHL of the same thing.
It was a lot of work, a lot of meetings, and many long days. Finally, after months of hard work, it was agreed that St. John’s would be home to the Winnipeg Jets farm team. And then the real work began. In what most teams would take a year to do, The St. John’s IceCaps did in months.
On June 8 the team got approval from the AHL. On June 9 the announcement was made, and then the work began. A logo was created, a name was chosen, and a team was built. On Oct. 7 the team played its first regular season game.
A week before their first game, the first in a pair of road games before playing their home opener at Mile One, the IceCaps had sold all their seasons tickets, sold all their ticket packages, and rented every suite. They had also sold all their sponsorship slots. In a building with a maximum seating capacity of 5,800 the IceCaps already have 5,000 paid seats before single tickets were made available for sale. The team was a success, and they had yet to play a single game.
The team had the highest percentage of season ticket sales in the league, said Stanford, a record matched by the highest corporate partner participation in the league. While bringing the team to St. John’s was achieved through the relentless efforts of Stanford and Williams, it was the people of St. John’s who really accomplished the most, said Stanford. Their level of participation through season tickets purchases, as well as the support of the business community through corporate sponsorships, is what really made the team a success.
“If there’s anyone who deserves credit, it’s the people of St. John’s,” said Stanford.