Professional ice hockey is back in East Rutherford.
The Metropolitan Riveters announced Wednesday a three-year agreement to make the ice rink at the American Dream mall the team’s new home ice, beginning with this upcoming season of the Premier Hockey Federation. The professional women's team previously held its games at the Prudential Center Practice Facility in Newark.
The team began using the venue for regular practices last year, offering fans and mall-goers unique access to their practices in real-time. Now, all home games and practices will be held at a regulation-size rink called The Rink at American Dream.
“After practicing at American Dream, it felt like the perfect time to take that partnership to the next level,” said team captain Madison Packer in a statement. “American Dream is committed to growing the game and supporting female athletes, and I am beyond excited to call the complex home for many years to come. This partnership continues to elevate the player experience and provides resources necessary to recover and compete at the highest level.”
The ice rink at American Dream can be fitted for as many as 2,000 spectators with options for tiered suites, mall officials said. There are two levels of the mall that directly overlook the ice rink. The rink currently hosts open skate, youth hockey tournaments and the New Jersey Devil’s Learn to Play program, where youth hockey players can pick up hockey for the first time.
“We are extremely excited to provide our players with a state-of-the-art facility that they can call home,” said Digit Murphy, the team’s president. “Our organization focused on finding a permanent location where Riveters games would be played, and we wanted to ensure the facility had top-notch professional amenities.”
Triple Five, the Canadian developer that operates American Dream, is no stranger to hosting professional sporting events at its many malls. The developer also owns Mall of America in Minnesota and West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta.
“As a lifelong hockey fan, I am thrilled to have a professional team call American Dream home,” Don Ghermezian, American Dream’ chief executive, said in a statement. “I am even more thrilled to have the Riveters — a forward-thinking organization that wants to revolutionize the sports industry, much in the same way that American Dream is revolutionizing of so many industries.”
UNLIKELY PAIRING: Pro women's hockey team holds open practices at American Dream mall
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The PHF, formerly the National Women’s Hockey League, usually begins its season by late fall. The league will release the 2022-23 regular season schedule later this month.
All PHF games will be aired by ESPN, after the network and league last month agreed to a two-year broadcasting extension through the 2023-24 season. Games debuted on ESPN platforms last season, with the Isobel Cup championship airing on ESPN2 in March.
It remains unclear what a game operating inside a mall will look like.
Players have direct access to the facility through their own private entrance away from customers. The rink is in plain view of the mall’s indoor water park, and a stone’s throw from the mall’s indoor theme park. The second level that overlooks the rink is an extension of the mall’s food court. The third level, which has long been vacant, could potentially offer space for hockey-specific amenities for fans.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Metropolitan Riveters to play home games at American Dream mall