MISSASSAUGA, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League stamped its approval Monday morning on the sale of the Plymouth Whalers to IMS Hockey Corporation and owner Rolf Nilsen. The Whalers will begin playing in Flint at Perani Arena in the fall of 2015, said Costa Papista, President of IMS Hockey after the announcement.
“Today was a good day, a really good day,” said Papista. “The sale was unanimously approved, which was a big deal. Everything fell into place.”
Papista added, “I can’t say enough about the visitors from the OHL last Monday when they visited Grand Blanc High School and then the Flint Chamber leaders and the head county commissioners, Sheriff Pickell and the entourage of community leaders. They really helped us seal the deal.”
Papista noted that he and Nilsen, along with their newly formed advisory group and front office staff see a lot of new rivalries that can be formed with the yet-to-be-named Flint team.
“I see some great rivalries with Sarnia and Windsor being that they are so close geographically and I think those will be easy to form and the fans all travel well, so it’s going to create a great economic impact and be a really big deal when the fans travel to Flint and to Canada.”’
The Whalers will finish out their current season sometime in March. In the meantime, a Name the Team campaign was announced yesterday (Wednesday, Feb. 4). Papista explained that a new team name, logo concept and team colors are being sought from the community. Entries can be submitted to www.ohl4flint.com.
“The only exclusion is we cannot use Generals because Oshawa has had a Generals team that has been around for 65 years,” Papista said. “The winner will be chosen by IMS Hockey Corporation and its advisory board and front office staff. We will announce that on Wednesday and everything will be online. Please visit www.mihomepaper.com today for the link.
Fans naturally are interested in tickets. Papista said IMS Hockey will also announce a season-ticket campaign on Friday that will include single game and season-ticket information.
The new Flint players will attend Grand Blanc High School and the college-aged players will have choices of U-M Flint or Mott Community. Twenty two billet homes are being sought in Grand Blanc for the players. Interested families can contact Papista at mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“By mid-August, most of the players will be in Flint,” Papista said. “Others will attend NHL training camps and will be in the area by mid-September. In the meantime, a lot of upgrades are going to be worked on and with a seven month window we are confident we can meet those requests. In addition to season tickets we are also going to be looking for corporate sponsorships for support of the team. Anyone interested can e-mail me for details.”