DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – With no professional hockey team to cheer for in Danville this season, fans are asking the city to bring back an old favorite. A few dozen of them filled the Palmer Arena board room Wednesday night showing their support for the Dashers.
“It’s not just that we want them back, Danville needs them back,” Jenna Wirth said.
Hockey fans are eager to return to the stands, but not without Danville Dashers on the ice.
“The Dashers – it was a family team,” one fan said during public comment at Wednesday’s meeting.
“Other organizations didn’t have that [family atmosphere] but we’re hoping to bring that back,” fan Scott Mitchell said.
“If you take family out of it, out of any sport, you don’t have anything,” a fan said during public comment.
Former Dashers owner Barry Soskin says the Dashers played for about a decade – with a good record and eventually winning a championship title. But two years ago, they were replaced by the Bobcats.
“I felt bad for the fans. The fans that took me 10, 11 years to build up,” Soskin said.
The Bobcats recently ceased operations after failing to appear for a home game. So, Dashers fans took the opportunity to ask Palmer Arena board members to fill the vacancy.
“You can feel the love and support,” Wirth said.
Jenna Wirth is the president of the Danville chapter of AMBUCS – an organization helping people with disabilities. She says the Dashers always supported them.
“Just an avenue we can share those experiences with everybody. Nobody was excluded. We didn’t get that with the prior team,” Wirth said.
Before public comment started, Board Chairman Dean Shore addressed the crowd saying he’s excited to bring hockey back to Vermilion County.
“We’re looking forward to one, meeting with the Dashers, and sending requests for proposals,” Shore said.
Soskin says he’s willing to return, if the right deal is struck.
“What is that right deal? Let’s sit down at the negotiating table and talk about it,” Soskin said.
Shore says they’ll be making sure any team interested in playing for Danville will be properly vetted, and the future lease agreement is air tight.