The city of Columbus is prepared to do what it can to keep the Columbus Cottonmouths hockey franchise viable, City Manager Isaiah Hugley said on Thursday.
The Cottonmouths play all of their home games, a minimum of 28 per season in the city-owned and managed Columbus Civic Center. They are the building’s primary tenant and have played in it since 1996 when the hockey team was formed and the arena opened.
Cottonmouths owner Wanda Amos said on Thursday that the Southern Professional Hockey League club would cease operation at the end of the current season if new ownership could not be found.
“Right now, we are in a position to wait and see what happens,” Hugley said. “We will provide support to them in any way that we can.”
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Hugley has talked to Cottonmouths Head Coach and General Manager Jerome Bechard this week about the situation.
“I have asked Jerome to let me know if there is anything that we can do to assist them,” Hugley said.
Bechard is actively seeking new ownership. He is preparing as if there will be a 2017-2018 season. He provided the Civic Center staff a list of potential home dates next season.
The Cottonmouths are an integral part of the Civic Center, Hugley said.
“The Civic Center would not be the same without hockey and it certainly would not be the same without the Cottonmouths,” Hugley said. “This could be a devastating blow to the Civic Center.”