City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. announced today that a unanimous vote was taken by the Civic Center Commission to support the application of Worcester Pro Hockey, LLC led by Principal Cliff Rucker.

For months City Manager Augustus and DCU Center General Manager, Sandra L. Dunn have worked behind the scenes with Mr. Rucker on terms for bringing professional hockey back to Worcester. Mr. Rucker, a private enterprise entrepreneur with ties to Massachusetts, will submit an application to the ECHL this month to bring a brand new expansion team to the SMG-managed DCU Center. An expansion franchise in Central Massachusetts would make for the second ECHL team in New England after the recent tenancy of the Manchester Monarchs in Manchester, NH.

“Worcester is a hockey city,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “Professional hockey that is both affordable and accessible improves the quality of life for residents and visitors alike while also important to the vitality of downtown, driving restaurant business, hotel rooms and even creating jobs. I am excited to see what the next few months bring.”

The ECHL Board of Governors will meet in February to review applications and should it get approved, it is anticipated a team would begin play for the 2017/2018 season.

“Hockey has been a part of the DCU Center and the Worcester experience since 1994 and that’s a tradition we want to continue,” said John Budd, Chairman of the Civic Center Commission. “We expect that this team will create an exciting new brand that the local community can be proud to support.”

The ECHL averaged 4,598 fans per game in 2014-2015, a season which hosted 756 games between October 2014 and April 2015. Since its inception, the ECHL has had over 550 players advance to the NHL.

Timothy P. Murray, President and CEO, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce said, “Having a professional sports team is not only a feather in the city’s cap but also an economic development asset in that it brings thousands of people from the city and region into Worcester’s downtown supporting our restaurants, hotels, and overall economy. The Chamber is the thrilled to welcome an accomplished businessman like Cliff Rucker into our Central Mass community and we thank City Manager Augustus, Mayor Petty, Sandy Dunn, and the civic center commission for their work to make this happen.”

DCU Center General Manager, Sandra Dunn said, “The city and downtown in particular has seen tremendous growth over the last five years, including the expansion and hockey-specific upgrades to the DCU Center in 2013. We look forward to working with city leadership, team management and welcoming back the thousands of Central Massachusetts hockey fans who have told us that they want hockey back. We hear you, loud and clear.”