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ECHL Expanding to Lake Tahoe, Tim Tebow Is Team Owner



Credit: ECHL

Pro ice hockey is coming…to Lake Tahoe?

The ECHL announced today that there will be an expansion team starting play in South Lake Tahoe in 2024-25.

“The ECHL proudly welcomes the 29th Member Team to the League in the brand-new Tahoe Blue Event Center, expanding our geography in the western part of the continent, and creating natural rivalries for visiting fans with the Idaho Steelheads, Utah Grizzlies, and the entire Mountain Division,” ECHL commissioner Ryan Crelin said in a league statement.

The franchise will be owned by Tim Tebow – yes, that Tim Tebow – and David Hodges.

Tebow quarterbacked two BCS National Championships at the University of Florida and won the 2007 Heisman Trophy. He was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos and appeared in 35 NFL games over parts of three seasons with the Broncos and New York Jets.

As recently as 2021, Tebow appeared in pre-season games with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

From 2016 to 2020, Tebow played in the New York Mets farm system, making it as high as Triple-A.

Besides his many on-the-field athletic accomplishments, Tebow is currently a college football analyst for ESPN and SEC Network, and chairman of philanthropic organization, the Tim Tebow Foundation.

He’s also a minority partner with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen and Savannah Ghost Pirates.

“I love that sports can bring people together from all over to enjoy camaraderie, competition, and community impact,” Tebow said. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be part of a group bringing hockey to the Tahoe area for fans and families to create memories for years to come.”

Hodges owns three auto dealerships and real estate investment firms in Georgia, and commercial insurance agency 925 Partners.

“Tim and I are excited to be able to share this new team with the community,” Hodges said. “We look forward to engaging the fans as we name the team, design the logos and eventually drop the puck in October of 2024. We believe in the power of sports to bring communities together and there’s no better place than the South Lake Tahoe region. With this new ECHL team, we’re committed to delivering unforgettable games, making lasting memories and impacting this community positively.”

Crelin added: “This ownership and operating group have already shown the ability to create a new generation of ECHL fans, and we look forward to the excitement they will bring to South Tahoe.”

Lake Tahoe could be considered the ECHL’s third foray into Northern California. From 2005 to 2015, the Stockton Thunder played at Stockton Arena. From 2012 to 2014, the San Francisco Bulls played at the San Jose Sharks’ first home, Cow Palace. While Tahoe Blue Event Center is located in Stateline, Nevada, the arena is less than a 10-minute walk away from the California-Nevada border, so the new team will clearly be counting on a lot of traffic from the California side of the lake.

San Jose, most recently, had an ECHL affiliation agreement with the Wichita Thunder for the 2022-23 season.

I’m hearing that the San Jose Sharks are about to announce an ECHL affiliation agreement for 2023-24 soon.

But what about the 2024-25 campaign, when Lake Tahoe starts play?

There is a clear relationship between the Sharks and Lake Tahoe.

The NHL played in Lake Tahoe recently, as the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche, and the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, met in Feb. 2021 for two regular season games on the (frozen) water in NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe.

The San Jose Sharks, the closest NHL team to Lake Tahoe, just a four-hour drive south, weren’t invited, even though the area surrounding Lake Tahoe is a mix of Sharks, Golden Knights, and shared TV territory.

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