Teens Hope to Attract Professional Hockey to Fort Smith

Fort Smith has announced that members of its city board of directors plan to attend a meeting Wednesday to discuss the possibility of attracting a professional sports team to the city.

Here's what that's about, according City Director Philip Merry:

Six high school seniors will present their dream of bringing a professional hockey team at noon Wednesday at the Golden Corral restaurant in Fort Smith.

The Union Christian Academy students — Tristan Hubbard, McKale Scallions, Braxton Smith, Brock Smith, Nico Treshnel and Mary-Catherine Qualls — spent six months researching taxation and support for what would be a resident-owned team.

"They looked at what is the single thing that would keep and attract young professionals," Merry said.

After speaking with representatives of Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Hockey League, the students concluded that hockey was the most viable option.

The team, tentatively named the Arkansas Marshals, would need taxpayer support. With a population of about 87,000, Merry admits that Fort Smith is smaller in comparison to other host cities of professional teams. He said the six students looked to Wisconsin's Green Bay Packers as a model team in a small-population area to determine the viability of bringing such a team to Fort Smith.

At the lunch event, the students plan to present their six-month research findings and announce new steps with the city to conduct a one-year study regarding the project's potential.

The meeting was publicly announced in compliance with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act because members of the city board expect to be there.