116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE – Let’s introduce you to the Iowa Heartlanders.
That’s the official name of the minor-pro hockey team that will call Xtream Arena home beginning this fall. The club introduced its name and primary and secondary logos to about 200 or so fans and local dignitaries in a ceremony at the new arena Thursday afternoon.
The team will compete in the ECHL, a 26-team league that spans 19 states and two Canadian provinces. Franchises are affiliated with a National Hockey League club, and, though it’s not official, the Heartlanders almost certainly will be an affiliate of the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild’s top farm club is the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, located in Des Moines. The ECHL is a tier below the AHL.
The geography in this case (St. Paul, Des Moines, Coralville) makes total sense. If and when the affiliation thing is official, part of the Heartlanders roster would be made up of players owned by the Wild.
“We got a lot of feedback from the community, and we wanted to make sure we (picked) something that resonated both on a local and regional basis,” said Heartlanders President and CEO Brian McKenna.
“After months of research and listening to suggestions from thousands of fans, we are proud to call ourselves the Iowa Heartlanders,” said Dean MacDonald, Chair of Deacon Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Coralville franchise, as well as one in Newfoundland. “The Heartlanders are excited to bring pro hockey to Xtream Arena, creating new and exciting traditions both on the ice and in the community as our brand grows this season.”
MacDonald spoke via a previously recorded video since he lives in Newfoundland, and it was not feasible for him to be in Iowa considering COVID-19 protocols between the United States and Canada that require a two-week quarantine for travelers.
The Heartlanders’ primary colors will be black and gold, not exactly a surprise. Their primary logo is a deer buck “poised for battle in expression, stance, and thorny detailing, to capture the essence of our strength, determination and work ethic here in Iowa.”
Their secondary logo, which also will be on player jerseys, is a wild prairie rose, the state’s official flower. The club’s season-ticket membership program is named the “Rose Club.”
Those season tickets run anywhere from $495 to $1,195, depending on seat location. The Heartlanders will play 72 games, 36 at home, with the season opener being at Xtream Arena against the Kansas City Mavericks on Oct. 22
Individual tickets won’t be available until later in the summer.
The ECHL will be going into its 33rd season. It was previously known as the East Coast Hockey League but changed to just initials because its geography changed drastically.
The league has had 698 players graduate to the NHL. This is professional hockey, as opposed to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, who are a junior team in the United States Hockey League.
RoughRiders players are younger, not paid and are preparing for college or the professional ranks. Certainly the RoughRiders and Heartlanders will be in direct competition with each other for the Corridor’s entertainment dollars.
Can they both survive and co-exist?
“I think it might be kind of tough to compete on Friday and Saturday nights with the RoughRiders. But I think so. I hope so,” said Cole Gross, a fan attending Thursday’s ceremony who said he would be buying Heartlanders season tickets. “It would be so great to be able to continue to grow this great game here. Having two teams 30 minutes apart is big.”
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