McGinn family purchases professional hockey franchise

When the McGinn family sat huddled together this past May in a cottage on Belwood Lake, they were looking for a city in the southeast United States to place their new hockey franchise.

On Oct. 20, Bob McGinn, patriarch of a family of NHL-playing sons, announced the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) team would be coming to Roanoke, Virginia for the 2016-17 season.

A month later, Bob flew back to Roanoke to announce the team and logo.

“I’ve always been taught you go where you’re wanted the most,” said McGinn of the city choice.

He added Robyn Schon, general manager of Berglund Center arena in Roanoke, called him up during their search and said, “I know who you are, I know what you’re doing.”

On Nov. 20, McGinn presented the logo of the new Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs to a crowd of 600 – six times larger than the crowd he thought would show up.  

“The city is ready for professional hockey. They’re excited,” said McGinn.

Bob, Jamie, Tye and Brock McGinn have banded together with five local families, and Rob MacDougall, a Sports artist, and Tim Kerr, chair of the SPHL, to form Breakaway Sports and Entertainment, which owns Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs.

“It’s something I am interested in and I want to know the game in and out. Roanoke is a great, clean city that has been wanting professional hockey back and it’s a great fit for us and the SPHL,” said Jamie in an email statement.

The McGinn family picked the team name from the top three chosen by the local owners and the logo was designed by Sports artist and owner Rob MacDougall.

“We wanted to respect their past, we wanted to express what that city was all about,” said McGinn.

He added he had three goals to achieve before going forward, and they had to be completed by Aug. 30 or, he said, it would not have worked.

“We absolutely needed local ownership because I’m not going to be there all the time, we absolutely had to have the support of local government there in Roanoke, we had to have a proper lease that would work for us,” said McGinn.

While Jamie, Tye and Brock will collectively hold a 67.5 per cent share with their father, McGinn said the boys will take a backseat role while they are still playing, but they can take a more active role if they want.

Next August the family will be in Roanoke to host a hockey camp for the community as a way to be more involved, said McGinn.

“It’s important that I teach my boys the right way to run a company, a right way to treat a community, the right way to treat your other owners even though they are minority owners; certainly treat everyone with respect and that’s what I’m trying to do,” said McGinn.

The McGinn brothers are still spending most of their time on ice, all of them achieving NHL contracts for the 2015-16 season.

Jamie is playing left wing on the Buffalo Sabres this season. Tye has a contract with Tampa Bay Lightning but has spent most of the year with their farm team Syracuse Crunch. Youngest brother Brock is splitting his time with NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.