Delaware Thunder & Delaware State Fair Officials Fail to Negotiate Lease Extension

Delaware Thunder CEO Announces 2023 is Potentially Delaware Thunder's Final Season at Centre Ice Arena

HARRINGTON, De  —  Delaware Thunder CEO and President Charles Pens announced at a press conference today that Delaware State Fair Officials have decided not to extend the lease with the Thunder at Centre Ice Arena. Pens says The Thunder wants to extend the lease for at least the next two years. But he says he was taken aback when State Fair Officials told him in January the Thunder’s time at the fairgrounds was coming to an end. He says the public is behind the team staying. On March 27th a petition to keep the Thunder in Harrington was formed online with over 2000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

But with all the public support, Pens says he can’t figure out why State Fair Officials have decided to pull the plug.

“Nobody does more community programs than the Delaware Thunder professional hockey club. we all know that in this building, and our fans know that as well. Then they wanted to make room for more of their ice timing and programming. I’ve been at the rink 12 years and there’s not a huge demand for ice at ten in the morning Monday through Friday. I’ve never seen anybody ask for the ice and we only use 28 home dates. So I’m having a hard time buying that they need that ice for community programming,” Pens says.

Delaware State Fair Assistant GM Danny Aguilar says the two entities had been in negotiations to extend the lease since May but were unable to come to agreeable terms.  He also says that since 2002 the main purpose of the arena was to be home to programs like public skating, figure skating clubs, youth ice hockey clubs, church skating clubs, and more. But he tells 47 ABC the Delaware Thunder may have gotten in the way of that while also increasing energy use and costs to the point that state fair officials decided it was time to go in a new direction.

“We have to look at a blended approach and make sure it’s not all hockey programming, especially on primetime slots. That’s Friday nights, that’s Saturday nights, that’s even Saturday days, sometimes Sundays in past years. So that programming is time that we want to make sure that we share and distribute evenly with our core programming, the figure skating, the public skating, and the youth hockey,” Aguilar says.

 According to Pens,  The Thunder do not have a home arena to play in at the start of next season

Categories: Delaware Thunder, Professional, Sports