El Paso named Kraft Hockeyville USA winner
Kraft Heinz, together with the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), is proud to announce that El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso, Texas, home to the NAHL’s and NA3HL’s El Paso Rhinos, is officially Kraft Hockeyville™ USA 2020.
El Paso County Coliseum will be awarded $150,000 in rink upgrades from Kraft Heinz and $10,000 worth of new equipment from the NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund. Further information on an NHL® Community Celebration for the Grand Prize Winner will be determined at a later date.
Since the kickoff of this year's program, El Paso County Coliseum and its supporters have not only rallied online and voted but have also showed their spirit and pride for their local rink, proving them to be the most passionate hockey community in America. Ever since opening its doors in 1942 and originally built to host rodeos, El Paso County Coliseum has been a place for this tight-knit community to unite, heal and celebrate all that is good.
Back on June 16th, the NAHL and NA3HL announced the Rhinos will begin play beginning in the 2020-21 season in the NA3HL, which will be followed by the addition of an NAHL team in 2021-22. Founded in 2001 as a youth hockey team, the El Paso Rhinos played their first junior hockey game in 2006. Since that game, the Rhino staff has strived to improve every facet of hockey and business operations, develop players, and grow the program each season.
This is the second time in the last five years that a city and arena home to an NAHL team has claimed the Kraft Hockeyville USA title. In 2015, the Cambria County War Memorial Arena and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, home to the NAHL’s Johnstown Tomahawks, were crowned the winners of the first ever Kraft Hockeyville™ USA contest. Shreveport, Louisiana, home of the Shreveport Mudbugs, were a finalist in 2018, and Minot, North Dakota, home of the Minot Minotauros, were finalists in 2016.
"Kraft Hockeyville is all about showing passion and dedication to a community's spirit," said Magen Hanrahan, vice president of media and marketing services at Kraft Heinz. "El Paso has shown how important El Paso County Coliseum and hockey is to its community."
The First Prize rink, East Grand Forks Civic Center in East Grand Forks, Minnesota will receive $30,000 in rink upgrades, while the Second Prize rinks, Wichita Ice Center in Wichita, Kansas and Wildcat Centre Arena in River Falls, Wisconsin will each receive $10,000 in rink upgrades. All four finalists will also receive $10,000 worth of new hockey equipment from the NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund.
"Kraft Hockeyville USA shines a light on the immense value local ice rinks have to communities across the United States," said Brian Jennings, NHL Chief Brand Officer & Senior Executive Vice President. "Community backing is vital to growing the game of hockey and Kraft Heinz's steadfast commitment to this initiative makes a big impact. Congratulations to El Paso County Coliseum on this wonderful recognition."
"Every Kraft Hockeyville, a special community steps up to display an incredible passion that creates a memorable experience for all," said Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director. "At a time when community feels more important than ever, the players are proud to help El Paso - together with Kraft Heinz and the NHL - unite through hockey. The equipment donation from NHLPA Goals & Dreams to each of the four finalist communities will help keep the future of hockey strong and accessible."
Further information on an NHL® Community Celebration for the Grand Prize Winner will be determined at a later date.
Over the past four seasons, 90% of all the El Paso Rhinos home games have sold out. Between 2017 and 2019, the Rhinos had 37 straight sellouts. Each game, over 15 off-ice officials volunteer to provide a professional experience for teams, referees, and fans. All off-ice officials previously worked for the semi-professional team, the El Paso Buzzards, and have volunteered with the Rhinos since the team’s inception. At the El Paso County Events Center, the Rhinos’ locker room contains 25 player stalls, a flat screen television, and a surround-sound system. Connected to the locker room is the bathroom, with five showers, and the training room, fully stocked with all practice and game-day essentials.