MASON CITY, Iowa – Last month it was announced that the North Iowa Bulls, a member of the NA3HL, would be switching management. Consolidated Sports Holdings sold the championship factory team to F&S Management based in California. KIOW sat down with the new majority owner, Alberto Fernandez, to discuss the purchase. When asked why North Iowa, Fernandez says:
The Amarillo Bulls, based in Amarillo, Texas, are a member of the Tier II league, the NAHL.
Fernandez and his partner, Robert Sweeney, started F&S Management, for this reason, to keep junior hockey teams alive.
Yesterday, it was announced that F&S Management and the City of Mason City have officially partnered to make the new, unfinished, multi-purpose arena in downtown, the new home of the North Iowa Bulls. Fernandez told KIOW, in the exclusive interview, that the new arena was part of the draw to buy the team.
The new arena will provide ice for all home games and practices during seven months of the year, which eliminates the Bulls’ daily road trips to Albert Lea, Minnesota, for preseason practices. Other arena amenities for the Bulls will include a dedicated team locker room, team office space, and permanent retail space. The Bulls and Mason City Youth Hockey have also partnered with ICON Sports Marketing to handle the bulk of corporate sales in the new facility. ICON Sports Marketing is the marketing and sales arm of ICON Architectural Group, the designer of the Bulls’ new facility and other recent junior hockey arenas in Omaha, Nebraska, and Fargo, North Dakota.
The move spells goodbye to the longtime home of the Bulls, the North Iowa Ice Arena. The arena, known to many as the “Barn”, has a storied hockey history including hosting a junior hockey team for 30 of its 36 years. It was normal for the “Barn” to host loud and boisterous crowds, with the Bulls winning the NA3HL’s attendance title in each of their first seven seasons. The club will play the next couple of months in the North Iowa Ice Arena. The final game in the “Barn” is scheduled for Dec 7th, and the team is expected to play in its new home, starting on Dec. 28th.
North Iowa Bulls Director of Business Operations Kathee Corsello.
“The Bulls have had a great relationship with the North Iowa Events Center and are grateful for the memories we were able to build at the North Iowa Ice Arena. It’s hard to say goodbye to our ‘Barn,’ but we are excited for the opportunities the new facility gives us to enhance the overall game experience for fans.”
The leadership team of F&S Management includes Tyler Shaffar, who worked for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks for 15 years before joining F&S, which has also operated a twin-rink ice facility in the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly a decade that has included the launch and rapid growth of a local youth hockey program. Shaffer was in North Iowa to see the Bulls beat the Wilmar WarHawks on their home-opening night, 11-1.
Currently, the Bulls are 9-1 and leading the NA3HL’s Western Division with 18 points. The Bulls are next in action this weekend for a division leader clash, as they head to St. Louis to take on the Central Divison leaders, the St. Louis Jr. Blues.
(Pictures of the new arena) PC: Austin Draude
Zarren Egesdal is the Sports Director of KIOW Radio. Do you have a story idea? He can be reached M-F 8 am-5 pm at 641-585-1073 or anytime via email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Austin Draude, Media Director – North Iowa Bulls, contributed to this article.