Source: Baton Rouge Pro Hockey Facebook

Professional hockey returning to Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE — Professional hockey is returning to Baton Rouge.

For the first time since 2003, minor professional ice hockey will soon be played at the Raising Cane’s River Center.

Baton Rouge leaders announced that an expansion franchise of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, a single A professional hockey league independent of the NHL, would be coming to the city in October 2023. East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome called it a “significant milestone”.

“(Hockey returning to the city) represents an exciting opportunity for our city’s future,” Broome said. “Before today, Baton Rouge was the largest market in the nation without a professional sports team. With the arrival of the hockey team, we can expect to see increased tourism as fans from all over the region come to watch games and explore what our city has to offer.”

Three exhibition games saw more than 20-thousand fans flood the Raising Canes River Center. That exceeded the group’s goal of getting 15-thousand fans in seats for the three games.

Barry Soskin, the president and GM of Baton Rouge professional hockey, says their goal is to provide affordable family entertainment to Baton Rouge. Soskin owns three other teams that are part of the FPHL.

The professional hockey team signed a three year lease with the River Center. That follows the East Baton Rouge metro council approving upgrades to the River Center. New locker rooms and a new electronic scoreboard over center ice are among those improvements.

The team is expected to play 28 home games during the 2023-2024 season. Soskin says a naming contest would be announced in the coming days.

Hockey history

The Baton Rouge Kingfish was Baton Rouge’s first minor professional hockey team to hit the ice in the Capital City. The Kingfish, which relocated from Pennsylvania, played at what was then the Riverside Centroplex from 1996 to 2003.

The team was popular during the early years of their tenure in Baton Rouge, however declining attendance lead to the team’s demise.

The Kingfish made the playoffs three years in row, but the team only made it into round two during the 1998-1999 season. A handful of former Kingfish went on to play in the NHL

At the time, Louisiana had the Kingfish in Baton Rouge and the Ice Gators in Lafayette.

This is a developing story. Check back often for new information.

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