Women’s professional hockey team moves to new rink on NYC’s doorstep

The Metropolitan Riveters will become New York City’s newest sports team.

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The Metropolitan Riveters are hoping to increase visibility with their move to the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Courtesy of the Metropolitan Riveters)

Avery Hendrick, Staff Writer

The Metropolitan Riveters of the Premier Hockey Federation, a North American professional women’s hockey league, announced their move to New Jersey on Sept. 14. For the next three seasons, the team will practice and play its home games at The Rink, an NHL regulation-size hockey rink inside the American Dream Mall. The team’s first home game of the season is scheduled for Nov. 19 against the Toronto Six. 

The Metropolitan Riveters joined the PHF in 2015 during the league’s inaugural season. In 2017, the team announced a partnership with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, and relocated from Brooklyn to New Jersey. For the next six years, the Riveters operated out of the AmeriHealth Pavilion at the Prudential Center, the Devils’ main facility. 

The team’s new location at the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey, is less than 10 miles from New York City and offers a stage separate from the Devils. According to a press release from the Riveters, The Rink holds up to 2,000 spectators, with the option for private suites. No details have been released on how seating will be arranged.

The Riveters’ move is not the only change within PHF this off-season. In July, the league announced the addition of its seventh team and third expansion franchise with the Montreal Force. The PHF’s salary cap — the amount of money available to pay player’s salaries, not including bonuses, living expenses and travel stipends — increased from $150,000 to $300,000 for the 2021-22 season and will more than double to $750,000 for the 2022-23 season.

The PHF’s success, however, comes after years of financial and marketing difficulties. In 2016, players received up to a 50% pay cut due to insufficient revenue. Later, in 2019, the league lacked enough investors to provide full-time salaries or health insurance for its players — though it now does. In 2021, the league underwent a massive rebrand, changing its name from the National Women’s Hockey League to the PHF.

The largest struggle for the PHF continues to be its inability to reach an agreement with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association. Following the dissolution of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2019, more than 200 female hockey players who were dissatisfied with the salaries in women’s professional hockey formed the PWHPA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for increased wages and insurance in professional women’s ice hockey. The members refused to join professional hockey in North America, but continued to play in exposition games organized by the PWHPA.

The PHF and PWHPA have met multiple times over the last three years to reach an agreement, and women’s hockey remains divided among its players — many of the international stars who earned Olympic medals in Sochi, PyeongChang and Beijing do not play in the PHF.

The PHF and the Mentropolital Riveters, however, have grown in size and wealth over the past year. Just this past week, Saroya Tinker of the Toronto Six became the first PHF player to partner with Sherwood Hockey, a popular Canadian hockey equipment brand. With the extension with ESPN+, the PHF is ensuring that the majority of its games will be visible on a major sports-based streaming platform, a common problem for other women’s teams. For example, the National Women’s Soccer League and the United States women’s national soccer team often stream their games only on Twitch or Paramount+.

While the American Dream is a less conventional hockey venue, it provides an opportunity for visibility. The Riveters will need to contend with the unexpected challenges of playing in a mall, including unconventional seating and excess light during the day, but the new venue promises added viewership and player amenities.

Due to its shaky start, fans and players in the PHF are looking for the league to move toward a solid future. By keeping a team visible and near New York City, the league is taking a key step in that direction.

Contact Avery Hendrick at [email protected]