New Owners Take Over Watertown Wolves Hockey Team

New Owners Take Over Watertown Wolves Hockey Team

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The Watertown Wolves will have major changes next season - a new coach, new executives and new owners.

Top Shelf Hockey gave control of the team to a group of investors called the International Developmental Hockey League, or IDHL.

"Top Shelf Hockey LLC basically has gotten to the point where financially it's just not an option for us anymore," said Stan Tibbels, co-owner of the Watertown Wolves.

That's because it costs about $500,000 to play hockey each season.

IDHL president Don Kirnan is also the commissioner of the Federal Hockey League, which the Wolves play in.

Kirnan says the goal is to make enough money through tickets and corporate sponsorships to cover the costs.

"The league, along with the IDHL, felt that this market was to the point where it was close to breaking even. So we're trying to help keep hockey in Watertown," said Kirnan.

"You could never make this team break even based on ticket sales. It will never happen. So we need to have corporate partners," said Tibbels.

Two Top Shelf Hockey investors are staying on as co-owners, but only have a minority share of the team.

The Wolves play at Watertown Municipal Arena, which the city spent $10 million renovating in large part because of the Wolves.
Watertown mayor Joe Butler says he expects city council to finalize a one-year deal with the Wolves July 17.

"It's always important to have a reliable tenant that brings people to the arena," he said.

"There's some things that we can do right away that could really help the local youth hockey group. Hopefully, we can do that and that should help utilize the facility," said Kirnan.

The new Wolves owners say they're close to finishing negotiations with the city of Watertown on a multi-year agreement to stay here after next season.

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