Minor League Sports

City, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders working on lease agreement to keep hockey club in town

The Rough Riders team holds a practice at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. The team is in the process of acquiring a lease to stay in Cedar Rapids. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
The Rough Riders team holds a practice at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. The team is in the process of acquiring a lease to stay in Cedar Rapids. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — One sports team representing Cedar Rapids is for sale. Another is rumored to be on the way elsewhere.

But a third appears to be sticking around for quite awhile longer.

Owner Tony Sdao said his Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are working diligently with the city to hammer out an agreement for the United States Hockey League club to remain at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Time is of the essence, considering the current lease at what is affectionately known as The Stable expires at the end of this season. The RoughRiders came here from Mason City for the 1999-2000 season, with the Ice Arena opening in early 2000.

“We’re in our 19th season here in Cedar Rapids,” Sdao said. “We are very appreciative of our fans in the city. We’re looking to extend the existing lease for a very long period of time.”

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Sdao is a businessman from Colorado whose son played in the USHL. He was the primary financier of a six-person ownership group called Newco Riders, LLC, that purchased the RoughRiders from a Chicago-based group in May 2009 and paid for $500,000 worth of upgrades at the Arena, such as new video and audio systems.

The RoughRiders are averaging 2,182 fans per game this season, which ranks ninth in the 17-team USHL. Sdao has created several youth hockey teams here, in Colorado and Connecticut that are under the RoughRiders umbrella.

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He would not comment on specifics of a potential new lease here, nor offer a timetable for it to be finalized.

“We continue to work with the city to solidify a long-term agreement,” he said.

If the RoughRiders and Cedar Rapids are able to hammer out an extension, it will be interesting to see what eventually happens in nearby Coralville. Ground is expected to be broken soon on a new 5,000-seat arena there, with city officials continually saying they hope to attract a USHL team.

The RoughRiders have territorial rights and would have to sign off on a USHL team playing there. Theoretically, Sdao could own the Coralville team as well, if the league approves.

He would not comment on Coralville, saying that is something that would have to come from the USHL.

Owners of the Cedar Rapids Titans indoor football team said this week that club is being put up for sale. The Cedar Rapids Rampage indoor soccer team is rumored to be leaving for Florida.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

 

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