The Western Hockey League Board of Governors voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the sale and transfer of ownership of the Seattle Thunderbirds from Russ Farwell and his ownership group to Dan and Lindsey Leckelt, co-CEOs of Silent-Aire.
The Leckelt brothers are the co-owners of Silent-Aire, an engineering and data center equipment manufacturing company with operations in Edmonton, Phoenix, Seattle, Virginia and Dublin, Ireland, according to a WHL media release.
Farwell and his ownership group have owned the Thunderbirds franchise since 2002 and have operated out of the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent since 2009. The ownership change also requires approval of the city of Kent with respect to the arena license agreement. The T-Birds have 22 years left on a 30-year lease with Kent at the city-owned arena.
Dan and Lindsey Leckelt, who are graduates of the University of Alberta with Civil and Mechanical Engineering degrees, took over the leadership and strategic direction of Edmonton-based Silent-Aire in early 2000. Silent-Aire engineers and manufactures custom HVAC solutions for data centers, institutions and industrial facilities and has more than 900 employees worldwide.
Former university, senior and minor professional hockey players, Dan and Lindsey won an Allan Cup National Senior Hockey Championship with the Stony Plain Eagles in 1999. In 2014, Dan and Lindsey purchased the Stony Plain Eagles senior hockey team in Alberta and in 2017 acquired controlling interest in the Spruce Grove Saints Junior A hockey team of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
“Dan and Lindsey Leckelt will bring strong business acumen and an extensive hockey background to the WHL as the new owners of our Seattle Thunderbirds franchise,” WHL Commissioner Ron Robison said. “We believe their passion for the game and their commitment to the community of Kent will put the Thunderbirds in a position to continue to be a highly successful franchise in the seasons ahead.”
“We are very excited to see our passion for business and hockey come full circle in a community that has played such a large part in the growth of our family business,” said Lindsey Leckelt. “For Dan and I to have the opportunity to give back to Kent and the greater Seattle region through the acquisition of the Thunderbirds is truly aligned with our long-term vision.”
“It is an honor to become a part of the Western Hockey League and to be passed the torch from a great leader of our game like Russ Farwell,” said Dan Leckelt. “We are committed to carry on the tradition of the Seattle Thunderbirds with such a quality group of staff, players, sponsors and fans.”
Farwell, the general manager, and Colin Campbell, the vice president, will remain with the T-Birds and will continue to be responsible for the hockey and business management of the franchise.