Announced today was the sale of the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) to Rolf Nilsen and IMS Hockey Corp. pending OHL Board of Governors approval (set to meet February 2nd). IMS Hockey Corp. recently purchased the Perani Arena in Flint, Michigan and is set to put millions into the revitalization of the arena which was once a hot spot for sports and entertainment for Flint and Genesee County.
Peter Karmanos has sold the Plymouth Whalers to IMS Hockey Corp. They will move to Flint for next season, pending OHL approval
— Larry Mellott (@stormradioguy) January 14, 2015
A few years back I had an experience at the Pernai Arena that I wrote about here.
The move of the Whalers to Flint give the Flint and surrounding communities what they have been missing since the fold of the IHL and the beloved Flint Generals. A high level hockey team to rally around and an organization that that has pride in their product and community.
After the IHL and the Generals vacated Flint the Michigan Warriors (NAHL) were brought to town from the Upper Peninsula; however, the Flint hockey fans were used to higher level players like: Doug Shedden, Bobby Reynold and Darren McCarty.
If you were to sit down and talk hockey with those in the Flint area and you will hear stories about the Championships, the loss of the team, the return of the team, and how every once in a while you could catch some of the Detroit Red Wings players on the ice there.
Sadly, Flint has not been the hockeytown that their neighbor to the south Detroit has become in quiet some time. That doesn’t mean the fans are not still there. When the economy took a downturn Michigan was hit hard when the Big Three and other manufacturing companies started laying off thousands. Flint is slowly on the mend, just as hockey is returning to the area.
Recently, the Crystal Fieldhouse Ice Arena reopened (two exits down on I-69 from the Perani Arena). University of Michigan – Flint campus is using it as their home rink and area youth are returning to the ice rinks to learn to skate. Atwood Stadium in Flint has been installing ice rinks that are free to the public – just one catch, you have to have your own skates.
The timing with the OHL moving to town as the arena is being updated, ice rinks are making their come back, and the people are ready for high quality hockey could not have been better.