Since 1993, the Times Union Center has hosted American Hockey League (AHL) games, first with the Albany River Rats, and currently with the Albany Devils. Unfortunately for both local hockey and Albany Devils fans, a decision has been made to move the team from Albany to Binghamton, NY at the end of this season.
The AHL is the main development league for the National Hockey League (NHL) based in the U.S. and Canada. In 1993, the Troy-based Capital District Islanders became the Albany River Rats, and the Times Union Center was chosen as their new home.
From 1993-2010, the Albany River Rats were the Times Union Center’s primary sports organization, and some of the highlights of their time there included four division championships, two regular season titles, and one Calder Cup.
In 2010, the Albany River Rats moved to Charlotte, NC, and the New Jersey Devils moved their AHL affiliate, the Lowell Devils, to Albany. The team’s name officially changed to the Albany Devils that year, and ever since, they have played at the Times Union Center.
Although the Albany Devils have certainly gathered their fair share of dedicated fans over the years, attendance has been an ongoing issue. Indeed, for their 2016-17 season, the Albany Devils have ranked last in attendance among the other 29 AHL teams, averaging 3,096 fans. The hockey arena’s capacity is about 14,236.
As a result of this low attendance number, the New Jersey Devils organization has decided to move the team to Binghamton next season. Binghamton’s current team will move to Belleville, Ontario, and the Albany Devils will become the Binghamton Devils.
For longtime hockey fans in the Capital Region, this move is a major disappointment. However, despite the Times Union Center losing its AHL team, there is a chance for something new to take its place.
The New Jersey Devils organization still sees the Times Union Center as a top choice for a sports entity. In addition, negotiations are underway in Albany County for a possible replacement, but nothing is definite.
What would you like to see come to the Times Union Center?
- Daily Gazette – It’s official: Albany Devils moving to Binghamton