FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Home to the Largest Military Installation in the World, Fort Bragg and Fayetteville are eternally linked by history, residence, and geography.
History will once again link these two, as the Fayetteville Marksmen will play the first-ever professional hockey game on a Military Installation, hosted at Cleland Ice Rink on Fort Bragg on October 12 at 6 PM, taking on their rival Roanoke.
Founded in 1976, Cleland is one of only three Ice Rinks located on a Military Installation, and is a home-away-from-home for the Marksmen. The rink hosted the team’s Training Camp in 2018, and will do the same prior to this season.
Fayetteville Marksmen Owner and Fort Bragg Veteran Chuck Norris expressed great pride and appreciation in having this groundbreaking event on the historic base.
“Cleland was a big part in my life during my time in the service. For a former soldier on Fort Bragg, and after 20 years of hockey in Fayetteville, to be a small part of being able to be the first team to bring a professional hockey game to this arena is an absolute honor,” said Norris “So much credit for this becoming a reality belongs to the constant effort of all involved on base, at Cleland, and in our organization. It’s an honor have our team forever associated with the proud history of Fort Bragg.”
A.J. Guimont, Facility Manager for Cleland Skating Rink, played a huge role in bridging the two organizations together and pushing the envelope to make such a game possible.
“Last fall, Head Coach Jesse Kallechy and I were talking about how cool it would be to have a game at Cleland. When Marksmen Owner Mr. [Chuck] Norris got involved, the ball started rolling,” said Guimont “After getting the thumbs-up from the MWR Director Raymond Lacey and Garrison Commander COL. Sounia, we could start preparing for the event.”
Guimont went on, speaking of the significance of the event for Cleland, Fort Bragg, and the Marksmen.
“Having a professional hockey game on a Military Base is unique; there are only three rinks on Army Bases worldwide, and to my knowledge none of them have ever hosted a professional game,” said Guimont “Being a small venue, the fans will be as closed as you can get to the ice. We are excited to host the Marksmen in October.”
While historic for the team and base, this event also serves to highlight the brand, recognition, and image of the Southern Professional Hockey League, whom Fayetteville and Roanoke are part of. SPHL Commissioner Doug Price spoke with admiration on the ability of the league and its representatives.
“The relationship of Fort Bragg and the city of Fayetteville dates back to 1918 and it is truly an honor for the Marksmen and the SPHL to be allowed the privilege of not only playing the first professional hockey game on an active military base, but at the largest military installation in the world,” said Price “Throughout the league’s history, the SPHL has recognized the service and sacrifice of our brave military men and women. As Marksmen owner Chuck Norris was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) stationed at Fort Bragg, I can think of no better organization to represent the SPHL in this historic partnership.”
Marksmen Head Coach Jesse Kallechy, one of the engineers behind this event, spoke with great excitement in regards to the preseason game.
“We are very excited that we are able to not only showcase our team for the first time, but also, play in the first professional hockey game on an Army Base. We are fortunate to live in such a patriotic city, and we can’t wait to show our service members on their home turf what we’re all about,” said Kallechy ” This game, from concept to execution, will be about a full-year of work from a lot of great people. We couldn’t have asked for better people than A.J., Community Recreation Division Director Mike Desmone, and the countless folks on base who made this happen.”
While the ice arena has hosted plenty of competitive hockey events, game, camps, and tournaments in its proud history, this will be the first time its ever seen two professional teams suit up against each other. Consequently, this will also be the first preseason game played on “home-ice” in Marksmen team history. Attendees at the game will include Southern Professional Hockey League Commissioner Doug Price, Fayetteville Marksmen Owners Chuck & Lanai Norris and Family, Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs President Mickey Gray, and a plethora of representatives from the U.S. Army, included for the Ceremonial Puck Drop and National Anthem.
This will be just the second professional sporting event ever played on a Military Installation – and Fort Bragg. Major League Baseball hosted a game on the base in 2015.
Tickets for this inaugural event are extremely limited; Only 500 tickets will be allotted for purchase for $10, and will exclusively be sold at Leisure Travel Services on base. Fans will have the chance to skate post-game with players as well. Don’t delay, tickets for this historic event will go quick.
The preparation for the 2019-2020 season begins now for the Fayetteville Marksmen organization! Season Tickets are on-sale now, with the most affordable plans and best benefits we’ve ever offered.
If you’re interested in partnering up with the Marksmen organization, or hearing about our season ticket packages, group packages, mini-plans, or advertising benefits in-arena or with the broadcast, email Community Relations Director Shawn Bednard, SBednard@MarksmenHockey.com or call the Marksmen Office at (910) 321-0123.
Follow the Marksmen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all the latest news and information surrounding the team. Search and follow “Marksmen Hockey” for behind-the-scenes content, player and coaches interviews, and much more!
The Fayetteville Marksmen are owned and operated by Union Pro Hockey Group and play their home games at Crown Coliseum. The Marksmen are a committed community asset, designed to provide premium entertainment to families and individuals in Cumberland County and surrounding areas.