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Hockey is back in Baton Rouge starting this October

The new Baton Rouge professional hockey team has signed a three-year lease with the Raising Cane’s River Center, officials announced today.

Now that the new franchise is official, the public outreach process to choose a name will launch later this week with expectations of hosting at least 28 home games (not counting possible playoff games) starting in October.

“Let’s work together to make this a successful venture,” Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said.

Team owner Barry Soskin says he has begun reaching out to potential coaches and hopes to fill out the organization’s staff with locals.

“This is about Baton Rouge’s team, not Barry’s team,” he says.

Three recent exhibition games drew a total of more than 21,000 fans, including many from outside the immediate Baton Rouge area, says Wayne Hodes, who manages the River Center. Broome says the team will give the city an economic boost while building community pride.

“Sports has a way of bringing people together,” she says.

The Baton Rouge Kingfish played in Baton Rouge from 1996 to 2003. Support was strong early but tailed off, which Hodes blamed in part on the ownership selling the team. He said Soskin has 20-plus years of success in the sport and is “here for the long haul.”

Read about one of Baton Rouge’s biggest hockey fans–and peek inside the souvenir-studded hockey room in her home–in this story from the inRegister archives.