City Meets With Teens Working To Bring Pro Hockey Team To Fort Smith

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Some local high schoolers presented big plans to the city to bring a professional hockey team to Fort Smith.

What began as a senior class project turned into a $450 million dollar mega plan.

Nico Treshnell and Brock Smith are a few of the leaders behind the plan. They are recent graduates of Union Christian Academy in Fort Smith.

"Anyone who is any kind of sports fan would enjoy this," Smith said.

Through 400 hours of research, the group devised a plan to keep kids of their generation in town. They thought bringing a pro hockey team and stadium to Fort Smith could perform that task.

"We are thinking about an 18,500-seat arena," Treshnell said.

They said such a stadium would bring an electric atmosphere similar to Green Bay, Wisconsin---another small town with a big team---and Oklahoma City to the River Valley.

So the group brought their idea to city officials like Philip Merry.

“It just might happen,” Merry said.

The teens want to make the plan happen through a sales tax, naming rights and asset-backed securities.

Team funding for the Arkansas Marshals would come from investors, the recent graduates said.

Supporters of the plan said they understand it seems like a long shot.

“That`s the natural response to anybody first hears the idea. It`s just Fort Smith we couldn`t do anything like that,” said Paul Bridges, Union Christian superintendent. "There's a bunch of people around us, even at our school, saying you are working on a useless project."

The teens are traveling to Green Bay with Merry to further research the possibility of bringing the team to town.


  • Mell

    Hockey in Ft. Smith would be WONDERFUL. Great rivalry opportunities with the CHL teams. Downtown Ft. Smith is a lot shorter drive than going to Tulsa for an Oiler’s game.

  • Michael

    This will never happen, I would love to have a hockey team in town but the city won’t allow it. Years ago the city was approached about hosting a minor league baseball team (The Naturals) and the city said no, it wasn’t the direction they wanted the city to go in.

  • Rick

    #1 – 400 hrs. of research? Come on boys, lets shave off those wish-kers and plan your own future!
    #2 – If UCA needs a REAL project, keeping it’s own school open should be the PRIORITY.
    #3 – Mr. Merry looks just giddy with the excitement of an out-of-state trip with the teenagers!?!?
    #4 – Thank God Ashley Beck looks good reading the story intro – Try investing some $$$ in her boys!

  • TNT

    This backwards town will have nothing new, it’s all about old (history) in Fort Smith. Whatever happened to that Marshall museum?? …as usual NOTHING! How much money did they spend on research for that years ago? That’s why anything that is anything is happening in NW Arkansas. But it’s cute they’re throwing this idea out there to just see it slowly die on the vine and go away.

  • Gabe

    400 hours of research? Did they skip researching how professional hockey couldnt even make it in Little Rock? Arena football tanked too. Come on guys, spend your time on something more productive. 18,500 seat arena? The Hogs cant even fill Bud Walton Arena on a regular basis. yaaawwwnnn

    • Hayden

      Why the sour grapes, Gabe? Not a fan of hockey? So what, I’m not a big fan myself. Perhaps if we had a local team I might be. The Arkansas Razorbacks hockey team does pretty well in NWA. Why not at least consider one here? I’m a businessman, I like the idea of growth behind this. It could possibly work. They are researching it – not implementing it. Let them see what they come up with first.
      As far as The HOGS and Bud Walton go, that place sells out when the team is great and still does well when they are average, especially when you compare it to attendance of other college teams. If a professional hockey team does moderately well here, then this whole plan comes together when you consider the funding is coming from investors. Jobs, tourism, and growth. Let the young men do the math and see what they discover.

      • Gabe

        I went to college in in Central Arkansas in the late 1990’s at the “height” of professional hockey in Little Rock(Arkansas Razorblades and whatever else they were called before that) and you were lucky to have a 1000 fans at Barton Coliseum on a good night. There is no way possible to fill an 18500 seat stadium for hockey in Fort Smith. Research that. Wont happen. Spend the time and money on something else instead of something that wont last 3 years.

  • hometown girl

    Those of you that are complaining and trying to shut them down: what are you doing to improve Fort Smith? At least they have the guts to TRY to bring something new in. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. The fact is, at least they are doing something, which is more than most of us can say. Don’t shut them down – support them! Who knows what could happen?

    • Gabe

      Im trying to get people not to blow money on pipe dream projects and spend it on stuff that has a chance to make a difference.

  • bigern75

    Can barely raise $50M for the Marshals museum, $450M will never happen. That should be spent on revitalizing downtown. Make that your next project. IMO

  • Watcher

    What a bunch of negative people. Comparing the Marshall museum and a possible arena are like comparing apples to oranges. The museum alone will not cause a young family to stay in the area if they even had a job. You would stop by stay maybe 30 minutes to and hour and leave town because you can’t take your kids to a bar. A actual area ( I know its a pipe dream) would increase business for hotels, restaurants, other service industry businesses, and both casino’s in Oklahoma. The arena would provide more visitors to the museum! Let these young people gain real world experience in dealing with business, government and naysayers. That’s true education.

    • Gabe

      Hockey is not going to keep a family in Fort Smith. See Hockey not working in Little Rock as an example. Move on

      • Watcher

        If this happened (which would be a miracle) do you really think it will just be Hockey only? No concerts, other sports?

  • BreeOge

    Hockey is a lot bigger than people think; I think it is a great idea! The Negative Nancyies need to be quiet and help Fort Smith grow! Companies are moving out everything is leaving and yet they want to complain when something could bring jobs.. Wow…. Just WOW is all I can say.

  • clay

    This sounds like a reason to give these young men a free trip to Green Bay. I would bet that Mr. Merry is friends with the families of these young men.

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