When I think about the Checkers move home to Bojangles Coliseum, one wish continues to come to mind, and that’s a reconnection with history. The Checkers aren’t a team that simply arrived in Charlotte in 2010. They also aren’t a team that moved to TWCA in 2005 after 13 years at Bojangles that began in 1993 with the ECHL (even though the Charlotte Business Journal alludes to that being the only history the Checkers have at Bojangles Coliseum).
The Charlotte Checkers are a team that has spanned decades in Charlotte. My parents attended games on dates when they were high school and college sweethearts. I attended my first pro hockey game there when I was in high school. The Checkers roots run deep at Bojangles Coliseum, and I know the current organization embraces this beyond the simple(yet eloquent!) “Checkers Come Home” phrase. The leagues and franchises have changed, but Charlotte hockey teams have won five championships over the course of the past 60 years.
The first Charlotte Hockey team, the Charlotte Clippers, were the Eastern Hockey League Champions in 1957, in their first full season in Charlotte. After changing their name to the Charlotte Checkers in 1960, the franchise went on to win championships in 1970 and again in 1972. After moving to the Southern Hockey League in 1973, the Checkers won the championship in 1975 and 1976. Unfortunately, the following season was cut short when the league folded, and it wasn’t until 1993 that Charlotte had a professional hockey team again.
My dream for Bojangles Coliseum is to see five championship banners hanging from the rafters, or at least prominently inside the rink, because each of the five championships Charlotte has are significant, even if they aren’t from the current AHL era. Having visited a number of AHL arenas, I’ve seen teams that embrace their history of past leagues and championships. I hope the Checkers show off their history, because they have a rich and storied one.
When I visited Milwaukee for the first time for an Admirals game, I was struck by the history in the building. Hanging prominently in the rafters of an arena shared with an NBA team, hung banners touting the USHL, IHL and AHL championships Milwaukee Admirals franchises have won over the year. Different leagues. Different levels of competitive hockey, but they all shared one beloved name in Milwaukee, and that’s the Admirals.
I then traveled to Chicago, and Peoria, and saw the same thing. Cities and teams proud of their history, of their hockey teams, even when they changed leagues.
I’ve always been a bit jealous of that history, or at least, the cities that not only embrace the history, but flaunt it. And Charlotte has a hockey history that deserves to be flaunted. We have a rich and storied hockey past that at 59 years and counting, is something to be proud of.
So my dream is to walk into Bojangles Coliseum next fall and see banners in the rafters proclaiming the awesome feats that Checkers over the decades have accomplished. I want to see EHL and SHL Championship Banners. A banner proclaiming the Charlotte Checkers as the Kelly Cup Champions.
Checkers fans have a lot to look forward to next season when the team moves home. I’m excited about the old and new traditions that the building will facilitate.
January 30, 2016 is the 60th Anniversary of the first professional hockey game in Charlotte (and one of the grand opening events at BoCo?) Now that’s a date to celebrate and I hope it’s a great one.
So, what are your wishes for the 2015-16 season, and the Checkers return to Bojangles?