The Return of a Local Pastime0
The Kalamazoo Wings (K-Wings) have provided professional hockey and entertainment to Kalamazoo since 1974. Supported by a deep-rooted, diehard fan base the organization is proud to be the second oldest franchise in the ECHL. When the 2019-20 season ended prematurely on March 19 due to COVID-19, fans were left wondering when they would see their beloved K-Wings take the ice again.
“We are fortunate that when the 2019-20 season was canceled this past spring, we only had 15% of our schedule left to play,” K-Wings’ Governor and Business Operations Director Toni Lentini Will said. “Over the last six months we have been able to see how other sports organizations and leagues have structured their openings or re-openings as we prepare for 2020-21.”
With 26 teams located in 19 states and two Canadian provinces, several national and state regulations came into play when the ECHL planned this upcoming season. As it currently stands, Friday, Dec. 4, is the anticipated start date for the 2020-21 season.
“The league plans for every team to play a full 72-game schedule, so that will take us through May 2021,” Will explained. “What effect will this have on the 2021-22 season? We don’t know yet. It could just mean that we have a shorter offseason.”
Whether or not spectators will be allowed in attendance at ECHL games also remains uncertain as the new season approaches. However, Will assures that K-Wings fans can expect a safe environment when they are welcomed back.
Guides, markers, and cashless options will all be incorporated to reduce potential risks. In the event that the season moves forward without spectators in the stands, fans can watch each K-Wings game live-streamed on Flosports.
“We are still following state and national regulations but are unsure at what point in the season fans will be allowed in the building and what our attendance capacity will look like,” she shared. “It will be different if the arena is empty. Players feed off the energy that the crowd brings, and we have one of the best environments in the league.”
Will and her staff recognize this fan dedication and have appreciated the patience and support that has been shown.
“This organization is part of the lifeblood of our community,” she remarked. “People talk about the first concert they went to at Wings Events Center, or the players they have watched go on to the NHL. Professional sports in a city the size of Kalamazoo is not common. We have continued to feel that support as the community stands by and that is awesome.”
We agree with that sentiment and appreciate all the hard work the entire K-Wings organization has put into starting this season. Let’s Go K-Wings!