Hockey Back in the Hall?

By David J. Spatz 

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 24, 2012

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Seven years after the 
Boardwalk Bullies, a minor-league hockey team, skated off the Boardwalk en route to a new home in California, could Atlantic City be on the verge of hosting yet another professional sports franchise?

Possibly, if there’s any truth to rumors that surfaced on the Internet after the New Jersey Devils’ farm club, the Albany Devils, announced it would return to Boardwalk Hall to play four regular-season games later this fall and winter.

Even more telling is that during a recent press conference by the Devils and Atlantic City tourism officials, the two top executives with the NHL’s Jersey Devils — which owns the Albany team — skated around a question about the Albany team moving to the Boardwalk permanently.

But Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek dropped what could be interpreted as a telling hint of his farm club’s future.

“It would say a lot [if the Atlantic City games draw big crowds] ...,” says Vanderbeek during the press conference. “We continue to try to extend our footprint further south in the state, and certainly having these four games here, and to the extent that they are well attended, would mean a lot.”

Need more convincing? Then consider this: New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a self-proclaimed “hockey mom,” attended the press conference and came right out and said if the Albany Devils games draw big audiences, it could pave the way for a professional hockey team to return to the Boardwalk.

“[If] we’re successful in those four games, we will have the leverage to attract a farm team here,” she says. “Even if it’s not the Devils, we’ll be able to take these numbers on the road and attract a team to this beautiful facility right here. … I look forward to... maybe some type of association with the farm team.”

The Oct. 13 preseason game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets, which drew nearly 8,000 people to the big room on the Boardwalk, only fueled speculation that A.C. may be getting back into the minor-league sports business.

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