Agua Caliente tribe announces plans for Palm Springs arena, seeks pro hockey team

Arena hopes to serve as the home for AHL team.

Palm Springs Arena

PALM SPRINGS, Calif.- - A state of the art 300,000 square foot, 10,000 seat arena is planned to be built on 16-acre tribal land in downtown Palm Springs as early as February 2020. 

On Wednesday, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians announced plans to partner with Oak View Group, a "global venue development, advisory, and investment company for sports and live entertainment industries" to bring a sports and entertainment arena to tribal land in Palm Springs.

"This is a unique partnership that will forever change the face of sports and entertainment in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley," Tribal Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe wrote in a news release. "We are creating a healthy community gathering place for Coachella Valley families and visitors from around the world to celebrate, play and experience diverse entertainment opportunities in a state-of-the-art arena."

The Oak View Group and  Seattle owner David Bonderman have submitted a joint application for the venue to host the American Hockey League's 32nd team. The AHL team would serve as the minor league affiliate of the yet-unnamed Seattle pro hockey team. 

"The new arena in downtown Palm Springs is a terrific project. If we are successful with our application for an AHL Franchise, it would represent an exciting opportunity to bring the first professional hockey team to this region," Tod Leiweke, CEO of NHL Seattle wrote in a statement. "We are confident that the market is ready to embrace a winter sports team and that the community will help us achieve the minimum level of season tickets and premium sales we need."

The AHL affiliate would begin play during the AHL's 2021-2022 season, with the arena opening to the public in fall of 2021. 

In May, Leiweke said that Boise, Idaho and Palm Springs were being analyzed as possible hosts for Seattle's minor league team. 

Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon says he was notified of the project moments before the announcement was made public. 

"Jeff Grubbe called me just before it [news release] went out, because we have a good relationship. But I'm very excited about it. I think it will be a great addition to down town," said Moon. 

But Moon does have a concern over public safety.

"Our public safety bill in the city is $53 million a year and the way things are set up, the tribe doesn't pay sales tax or property tax, so I'm really hoping that we can work something out with the tribe where they can start to help pick up some of these costs of public safety," said Moon.



Oak View Group is leading and financing a $900 million+ project renovating and revamping Seattle's KeyArena, which will serve as the home for the NHL's 32nd franchise. 

Live Nation entertainment is also on board as a 'strategic partner' for the arena, according to the news release on the project sent out by the tribe. 




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