EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso is Hockeyville USA and the El Paso Rhinos reap the benefits.
Following their 2020 win in the Kraft Hockeyville challenge, the Rhinos were presented a check for $150,000 in arena upgrades. The roof has now been replaced to better insulate the El Paso County Coliseum Events Center, which helps maintain the ice, especially in the summer months when temperatures typically rise above 100 degrees in the Sun City. LED lights have also been added to the arena.
“The quality of the ice, the quality of the look of the arena and the nice breeze you get when you walk inside — it’s beautiful,” said Rhinos head coach Cory Herman. “All those renovations that we did has upgraded our arena. It gives us the ability to keep it open longer [in the summer] and to be able to host these hockey specific events.”
Last Spring, the Rhinos announced they would join the North American Hockey League (NAHL) starting in September of 2021. The team has already signed ten tenders — players who have committed to play for the upcoming season — and will fill the remaining roster spots with tryout camps throughout the summer. Between June and August, hundreds of players from around the world will travel to El Paso to compete for a spot on the Rhinos’ roster in four separate camps, all of which will be hosted in El Paso at the Events Center.
In addition to arena upgrades, El Paso’s Kraft Hockeyville win will also bring an NHL exhibition game to El Paso, likely in the fall of 2021 or 2022.
“I just think it’s going to be a great thing for El Paso to bring two NHL teams here and be able to showcase the city,” said Herman. “It’ll be something that I don’t think El Paso has ever seen before. To have two top level professional teams playing in your city.”
The NHL teams coming to El Paso has not been decided, but it will likely be two regional teams in the league.