AMESBURY – Maples Crossing, the business and hospitality center built on youth hockey, is just beginning construction, but already it is making this city, the home of the first professional hockey team, a destination for hockey enthusiasts.
Hockey East Assn., which oversees 21 college hockey teams, including the current national champion, relocated here to CIWorks last week as a temporary home until Maples Crossing office buildings are built.
Steve Metcalf, the Hockey East commissioner, said Amesbury would not have even been on the list of possible cities without Mike Gorman of Maples Crossing.
“I didn’t know much about Amesbury,” Metcalf said last. One of his assistant commissioners recommended Amesbury, but it was Gorman, he said, who persuaded him to move the Hockey East headquarters here. “Because of Mike we thought about Amesbury differently,” he said.
Gorman said, “Hockey East is one of the most recognizable and iconic associations in all of college hockey. We are thrilled that they have chosen to move to Amesbury and did so to be a future part of the Maples Crossing campus.”
The nation’s premier college hockey conference decided not to renew its office lease in Wakefield and was looking for a central location close to major highways. Metcalf and his staff of eight are often on the road visiting east coast colleges and attending hockey games.
Interstates 95 and 495 pass through Amesbury, and the city is not far from Interstate 93.
“This place is a winner. It’s a great little town. I love Amesbury,” said Metcalf, who was the deputy athletic director at the University of New Hampshire for two decades before being named Hockey East commissioner. He lives in Portsmouth.
The plan is for Hockey East to move into space at Maples Crossing when the 150,000 square feet of office buildings and multi-use space is completed on South Hunt Road.
Maples Crossing is a combination of sports arenas, including a 2,500-seat hockey rink, two hotels and office space that will include restaurants and exercise facilities. “It is the whole package,” Metcalf said.
During the probably two years it will take Maples Crossing complex to be built on the hill above the old Amesbury Sports Park, Hockey East will lease space on the third floor at CIWorks, which houses a variety of manufacturers and service companies in an old mill building on Chestnut Street.
“CI Works welcomed Hockey East to Amesbury with a flexible lease term based upon availability of new office space within Maples Crossing and a 90-day notice period once construction is completed,” CI Works announced.
Gorman introduced Metcalf to Bob O’Brien and Mark Friery, the founders of CI Works, which lists 33 other tenants in their building. Metcalf said he is looking forward to getting to know other tenants, some of whom may be collaborating with Gorman at Maples Crossing.
In its news release announcing the move, Metcalf wrote: “This is a great connection with Amesbury and the rich tradition of hockey history in the city – particularly the Amesbury Maples organization, which is the country’s oldest amateur hockey organization. The move presents a great opportunity for Amesbury to explore and expand its rich hockey history and gain additional visibility through Hockey East’s brand association and marquee events.”
Since the Hockey East league was founded in 1984, the men’s league has won 10 NCAA championships, including the 2021 champion Massachusetts Minutemen. Since 1999, Hockey East has won eight men’s NCAA championship titles with 17 NCAA Championship Game appearances, while placing 28 teams in the Frozen Four and 74 teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Hockey East has sent 118 teams to the men’s NCAA Tournament since its inaugural season, more than any other conference. Hockey East is home to 11 Hobey Baker winners and four Patty Kazmaier winners. Hockey East was expanded in 2002-03 to include a 10-team women’s league.
Gorman said, “We are excited to see what’s next for Hockey East under the guidance of Commissioner Steve Metcalf and his team as it begins in its new home in the hockey-rich community of Amesbury and with Maples Crossing.”