Lamar Hunt Jr. loves his hockey team
Lamar Hunt Jr. is finalizing plans to bring a top-level amateur hockey team to Overland Park.
Hunt, the owner of the Missouri Mavericks and president of Loretto Sports Ventures, has secured the rights for a United States Hockey League expansion club, and he recently placed a deposit for the team to start play in 2017.
On Tuesday, he told The Star that the team plans to play at the proposed 6,000-seat sports arena in the BluHawk development, which on Monday received approval from the Overland Park Planning Commission. It will move on to the city council, which meets June 6.
"This will complete the picture that we started when we bought the Mavericks," Hunt said. "We wanted the affiliation with an NHL team. We wanted to make the playoffs with the Mavericks. We wanted to unify youth hockey in Kansas City. And now this is the top level of junior hockey in the United States. It fits very well along the growth path of hockey in Kansas City."
The USHL is regarded as the top junior league in the U.S. It currently has 17 teams, whose rosters consist of amateur players 20 years and younger.
The plan is for the arena to be funded via a public-private partnership, Hunt said. If approved, the arena would be scheduled for completion in 2018, he added, and it would be the home for the USHL team and other community events. The USHL franchise would play its inaugural 2017 elsewhere, though that location has not yet been determined.
Hunt said there are no plans to move the Missouri Mavericks to the Overland Park location. The Mavericks, an ECHL club that serves as an affiliate of the New York Islanders, have three years remaining on their lease with the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence.