COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Tuesday night at their weekly meeting, Columbus City Council gave unanimous approval to a 5-year deal with Ignite Pro Hockey, LLC to bring a Federal Hockey League team to the Civic Center.
Forget about the false start to hockey from two years ago and the COlumbus Burn that never happened, the man with this plan has a strong hockey background and has actually owned and run professional teams.
Jeff Croop runs a graphic arts design and marketing business in Richmond, Virginia called USA Ignite -- which explains the "Ignite Pro Hockey" name.
The 55-year old upstate New York native appeared on a hockey card in 1988 as the trainer for the Utica Devils of the American Hockey League.
Croop was an owner of the Utica Blizzard of the Colonial Hockey League in 1994, which moved to Winston-Salem and became the IceHawks in 1997.
He later was general manager of the Richmond Riverdogs of the United Hockey League, starting in 2004.
Croop’s son Jay is currently a forward with the Carolina Thunderbirds of the FHL, and for local ties his daughter is a member of Auburn's national champion equestrian team.
His pro hockey front-office experience, his business in marketing, and the lower cost of running a team in the Federal Hockey League as compared to the SPHL makes the chances of a hockey team surviving in Columbus look good.
The start date of the lease is May 1. which means the new hockey team will hit the ice in October for the 2019-2020 season.
After two years of empty winter nights in the Civic Center, hockey is back in Columbus.