(BINGHAMTON, NY) – Professional hockey will continue at the Visions Veterans Memorial Arena this fall. On Wednesday, the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL) and Carousel Sports, LLC announced an expansion team, the Binghamton Black Bears, will become the league’s newest team and play its home games at the Arena.
“Broome County has been a professional hockey community for nearly 50 years, and we’re excited to host the Black Bears at the Visions Veterans Memorial Arena,” said County Executive Jason Garnar. “This promises to be a fun, affordable experience for families throughout the community. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, having a team playing in our Arena will give residents and visitors a great reason to come rediscover Downtown Binghamton. I’d like to thank team owner Andreas Johansson, FPHL Commissioner Don Kirnan, and Arena Manager Chris Marion for working quickly to bring a team to Broome County.”
The FPHL has shown substantial growth over the last few years, and recently teams in Carolina, Columbus, and Elmira have made successful moves from affiliated leagues to achieve success in the FPHL. The league has been able to attract fans in large part due to the community involvement of the players and teams, affordable tickets, and more open, physical style of hockey. Team majority owner Andreas Johansson also owns the FPHL’s Watertown Wolves.
“We are incredibly excited to place an expansion team in a market with such tremendous hockey history as Binghamton. Our business model is based on affordable entertainment for the whole family, and our fans tend to love the community involvement of our players, as well as our “old school” style of hockey – fast, physical, and hard hitting, but with plenty of skill as well. If you look at where the league is today, compared to just a few years ago, it is incredible to see how far we have come, and the tremendous success we have seen in all these new markets,” said Andreas Johansson.
“I want to thank County Executive Jason Garnar, Chairman Dan Reynolds, the Arena Board of Directors, and the hockey community for working with us in such an expeditious manner in order to make sure the great fans of Broome County do not have to go another winter without pro hockey. We also could not have made this happen without the support of the FPHL board of governors, and commissioner Don Kirnan. When I first came across this opportunity, I knew it was something that we had to jump on right away, and we could not be more thrilled,” continued Johansson.
The league cites affordability as a primary factor to drawing big crowds, with season tickets starting from as low as $10 per game, and single tickets at lower prices as well. As a result, FPHL games attract more families, students, and “first time” visitors to a professional hockey game. Teams in Winston-Salem, Columbus (GA), and Elmira have all averaged higher attendance in the FPHL than they did with teams they hosted from other professional leagues in recent years.
“We are incredibly happy to be placing an expansion franchise in Binghamton,” said FPHL Commissioner Don Kirnan. “A city with such rich hockey history and great fans, we are certain our style of hockey will get fans coming to the Arena.”
“We see naming the arena as an investment in this community and our goal in the partnership is to keep the building buzzing with live events entertaining families and bringing people to town. Binghamton is a hockey town and we’re excited to see that tradition continue this fall,” said Tim Strong, Public Relations & Community Engagement Manager for Visions Federal Credit Union.
“We are excited to see hockey staying in Binghamton,” said Joe Mirabito, CEO of Mirabito Energy, which sponsors the Arena Box Office. “We believe community activities like this are important to keeping our community vibrant.”
The new ownership group is currently working to transition former Devils employees to join the new company and will place an early focus on reaching out to all current corporate partners and season ticket holders. The team is also set to start recruitment for a variety of roles, and looks forward to announcing the first head coach and other hockey personnel in the near future.
For more information, fans can visit www.binghamtonblackbears.com and also follow the team on Facebook (Binghamton Black Bears), Instagram (@BinghamtnBlackBears), and Twitter (@BinghamtonBB).