It’s official: Baton Rouge will have a hockey team again

The new Baton Rouge professional hockey team has signed a three-year lease with the Raising Cane’s River Center, officials announced Tuesday. Now that the new franchise is official, the public outreach process to choose a name will launch later this week with expectations of hosting at least 28 home games (not counting possible playoff games) starting in October. 

“Let’s work together to make this a successful venture,” Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said.

Team owner Barry Soskin says he has begun reaching out to potential coaches and hopes to fill out the organization’s staff with locals. 

“This is about Baton Rouge’s team, not Barry’s team,” he says. 

Earlier this year, 225 reported on exhibition games that were a test drive for relaunching Baton Rouge’s hockey scene. The tree winter games combined drew about 21,000 fans, including many from outside the immediate Baton Rouge area, says Wayne Hodes, who manages the River Center. Broome says the team will give the city an economic boost while building community pride.

“Sports has a way of bringing people together,” she says. 

The Baton Rouge Kingfish played in Baton Rouge from 1996 to 2003. Support was strong early but tailed off, which Hodes blamed in part on the ownership selling the team. He said Soskin has 20-plus years of success in the sport and is “here for the long haul.”

This story originally appeared in an April 11 issue of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.