It’s a face-off over money.
The owner of the Des Moines-based Iowa Chops American Hockey League team wants to sell the team and is offering to pay the owners of Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines about $700,000, as the team will be moved to another city once the sale is complete. Wells Fargo Arena is owned by Polk County and the Polk County Board of Supervisors is demanding more.
Supervisor Tom Hockensmith says a 2004 agreement between the county and the hockey team calls for its owners to pay $12.5 million if the team leaves Des Moines.
"Frankly, this is an insult," Hockensmith says. "This proposal is an insult to the citizens of Polk County."
Hockensmith admits it’s unlikely there’ll be AAA hockey at Wells Fargo Arena next season, but he remains hopeful one will eventually be attracted.
"I’m really disappointed because I felt like there was really positive attendance towards the end of the season, things were starting to get turned around," Hockensmith says. "So it’s a setback, but I don’t think we’re back to square one. I think we’re going to be O.K."
Last season, the Iowa Chops franchise ranked 17th amoung the 29 American Hockey League clubs in attendance. The National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks dropped its affiliation with the Chops earlier this year.
The Polk County Board of Supervisors filed a lawsuit today, trying to prevent the team from leaving Des Moines.