After several months with no news, official or unofficial, about the prospects for a new entry in the ECHL playing its home games at the Rio Rancho Events Center, word has arrived that talks are underway again.
That said, the “former” team, the New Mexico Raptors, are dead in the water — or melted ice. If there is a new team, it won’t be called the Raptors.
Former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White and his son, Darren Jr. — a former Rio Rancho High School baseball player — are “in discussions with some folks” in the ECHL.
White told the Observer he was “very limited in what I can say,” but felt there was a good chance that the investor group he and his son were working with could have a deal in place that would land an ECHL team here in time for the 2024-25 season.
White thinks it’s a great time to have a pro hockey team back in the City of Vision, where the New Mexico Scorpions played three seasons (2006-09) at what was then called the Santa Ana Star Center.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people about this,” White said. “They miss the Scorpions.
“There are a lot of people who grew up loving hockey, a lot of transplants,” he said, and that’s a group that includes himself, a native of New York and a fan of the New York Rangers, an “original 6” team in the National Hockey League.
This proposed team has “no affiliation (with an NHL team). There’s no name; nothing,” White said, and “Nothing to be rushed.”
And although the Scorpions, whose original home was Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, left after just three seasons, followed by a lower-level hockey team that departed after a few seasons, the burgeoning population could mean it’s time for another team.
“There’s just many more people that live on the West Side of the metro area,” White said. “It’s grown exponentially. It can be embraced and be successful and, more importantly, what better venue than the events center? I think it’s exciting.
“I think people are hungry for good entertainment.”