League's 29th Member set to begin play in 2024-25 Season
The ECHL announced on Monday that the League’s Board of Governors has approved the expansion application of Lake Tahoe for admittance into the League.
The team, which will be named later, will be owned by 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, and former National Football League quarterback, Tim Tebow, along with David Hodges, CEO of Hodges Management Group, LLC. The team will be managed and operated by Zawyer Sports & Entertainment. The announcement came today at a press conference at The Tahoe Blue Event Center.
“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,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “This new team will offer the only professional sports action in the region, giving locals a hometown team and fast-paced entertainment, with a commitment to giving back and growing the game of hockey in the community. 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.”
The Lake Tahoe Membership will begin play in the 2024-25 Season at the Tahoe Blue Event Center, a 4,200-plus seat arena that is expected to begin operations later this month. The arena is located in Stateline, Nevada and is managed by OVG 360. The arena is conveniently located at the center of the busy Lake Tahoe area which attracts more than 15 million visitors annually spurred by skiing and casinos.
Tim Tebow won two BCS National Championships at the University of Florida, in addition to the Heisman Trophy and multiple other awards. He has become best known around the world for his work with the Tim Tebow Foundation, whose mission is to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need. The Foundation fights for people who can’t fight for themselves in over 80 countries and counting. He is an entrepreneur, five-time New York Times best-selling author, sports broadcaster and investor, including minority partner in the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen and Savannah Ghost Pirates, as well as helping bring professional soccer to northeast Florida.
“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.”
David Hodges is Chairman and CEO of Hodges Management Group LLC, which owns three auto dealerships and real estate investment firms, and founder/owner of 925 Partners, a values driven agency offering trucking, auto, home, life, health and commercial insurance.
“It is an honor and a privilege to steward this new franchise for the community,” said Hodges. “Tim and I are excited to be able to share this new team with the community. 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.”
About the ECHL
Formed in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and two Canadian provinces for its 36th season in 2023-24. There have been 740 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 13 who have made their NHL debut in the 2022-23 season. The ECHL had affiliations with 28 of the 32 NHL teams in 2022-23, marking the 26th consecutive season that the league has affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
About Zawyer Sports & Entertainment
Zawyer Sports & Entertainment strives to provide affordable family sports entertainment with an emphasis on quality fan experiences, community engagement and producing competitive sports teams and brands. Zawyer Sports & Entertainment owns and operates two ECHL teams, the Jacksonville Icemen and the Savannah Ghost Pirates, in addition to the Community First Igloo and C3 Agency. Also included in the Zawyer Sports family is the Atlanta Gladiators and Ghost Pirates Ice, whom ZSE manages. Zawyer Sports & Entertainment was founded by Andy Kaufmann in 2018 and headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.