PHF: Minnesota is Moving

Minnesota Whitecaps players in away jerseys standing for the anthem.
The Whitecaps will have a new home nest season

If you have any moving boxes you’re not using, send them to the Minnesota Whitecaps. On July 26th, the city council in Richfield, MN, approved a lease agreement for the Whitecaps to play at the Richfield Ice Center starting this season. The Whitecaps have been playing home games at the Minnesota Wild’s practice rink (TRIA Rink in St. Paul). Their new facility in Richfield is close to downtown St. Paul and very close to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. It will be easy for fans to get to games and for the team to travel. There are two regulation-sized rinks in the arena with a capacity for 1,800 spectators (1,300 seats and 500 standing room spots). The second rink is primarily a practice rink, so the Whitecaps can keep one rink pristine for games and one for practices. The Richfield agreement goes through 2038 and provides the Whitecaps with free ice time and 15 games between October 1st and May 1st for the next three seasons. The team will hold sole advertising rights in Rink 1 and Rink 2. A  portion of advertising and concession revenues will also return to the city.

Facilities are huge for growing the PHF. The new venue will provide the team with a stable venue to play and practice; the Richfield Ice Center has a permanent locker room and training facility. A single location venue to train in, play in, and call home is crucial for a professional experience. A dedicated arena for the women’s game creates the feeling that it is something to be taken seriously and better mirrors the experience that male players get.

Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveille making a save against the Riveters.
Whitecaps goalie, Amanda Leveille, makes a save

Whitecaps head coach, Ronda Engelhardt, said in the announcement,  “Our goal is to give women opportunity at the highest level. Our players bring hard work, commitment, and humility to the game, both on and off the ice”. All PHF teams strive to treat their players like professionals, and moves like this are giant steps towards that goal. 

A sign with red text for Richfield Minnesota
The city of Richfield is a suburb of St. Paul

This move also benefits the city of Richfield beyond just the concessions and ad revenue. It is a city with passionate hockey fans and a core value of equity. The ice arena has been tremendous in connecting the community and providing opportunities for everyone. The Whitecaps now contribute to that. Richfield Recreation Services Director, Amy Markle, said, “Adding the Whitecaps will come alongside the efforts we’ve undertaken to make hockey and ice skating more inclusive and accessible for our community. We hope the team is ready to get involved and become part of Richfield.” There is already a well-developed learn-to-skate program in Richfield and the Hockey Niñas, a program run by the NHL’s Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award nominee Coach Meredith Davis. Her work is centered around making hockey more accessible and welcoming for young women of color. The Whitecaps can now support these efforts in their home arena and grow the game. The PHF has grown a lot this summer with a new team and policy around salary disclosures; improving facilities for a team is a positive step. These are the kinds of things fans want to see the league doing.

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