Friday, May 25, 2007

Relocation Ideas

1) With yesterday's news of a possible sale of the Nashville Predators we decided with the Cup Finals break to focus in on this and what other potential moves of other franchises may be forced/needed.

2) First, we are almost certain that Nashville will move. The early exit of the team this past spring was the final nail. Leopold, the team owner believed that a long Cup run this spring would attract more fans/local corporations and make the team profitable. (Explains the Forsberg trade) When that failed to happen (Another 1st round exit) it assured that Leopold would seek a buyer. He claims to have lost 25 million THIS year. (Wasn't the new CBA designed to prevent this??) After all we lost a full year of hockey so that small markets like Nashville could compete economically. Apparently they are still struggling!

3) Jim(Blackberry) Basille's bid to buy the team over other potential (American) buyers clearly signals an almost certain move to the Great White North. Where, is still debatable. Hamilton has been mentioned, as well as Winnipeg. Those, mostly because they have arenas that are NHL-ready now. Of course the Leafs and Sabres wouldn't like a competitor in their midst in Hamilton. While Winnipeg is far from where Basille works/lives. (We DO believe that the good folks in Winnipeg could still get a team, but its unlikely it'll be the Preds)

4) Another locale that we have read/heard about recently is the Kitchener-Waterloo area. They currently lack an NHL venue, but as it's Balsillie’s home base, where he could invest either on his own or most likely with some outside investment, in his own building for his newly purchased NHL franchise, it makes some sense. Of course that would mean a few years in Nashville as a lame duck team. Not a great circumstance unless you're in a position to lose even more $$ than Leopold did this season. What IS certain is that when the NHL approves the sale(you can bet the farm they will!) the Preds are as good as gone

5) That leaves us with what other teams will be next? We find it ironic that in a decade we've gone from teams exiting Canada for the south to now it looking likely that the opposite trend is here. It looks that in the short term (2-3 years) anyway, no other teams are in danger of relocating. The Thrashers/Panthers/Coyotes are three sun belt franchises that come to mind. However none are currently for sale, and Bettman at this time does NOT want to uproot those teams and lose what small foot print the league has in the south.

6) The U.S team that SHOULD have moved is the Devils! They have virtually no fan base to speak of. This despite years of success. However they are moving to a new arena that they will own/operate, so they will probably be pretty financially secure for 10+ more years in beautiful Newark, New Jersey.



I guess Ontario can support another team, but I agree with some of your other posters that Toronto has a lock on support in the province. Ask how many Senator fans there are. Its probably 95-5%
Put a team in Hamilton and you'll have to pull fans from the Leafs AND Buffalo. The Kitchener idea I can't talk about. I've never been there. On a map it looks like its far enough away from Toronto.
A team belongs in Quebec City! I'm not a French speaker, but they always seemed to support their team. Its far from Montreal. Will it happen? Probably not.


1) Correction: the Predators did NOT lose 25 million this past season. They lost 14, AND received another 14 in revenue sharing from the league(The most of any team)
2) If they stay in Nashville, unless their attendance increases to average 14K PAID/game, they lose that revenue sharing


1) Seems Mr. Balsille has a big decision to make Either keep the team in Nashville as a lame duck team or move it to another un named city temporarily until a new arena is built in the Kitchener area.
2) As some have correctly pointed out, Kitchener is NOT within the 'sphere of influence' of the Leafs so the Preds wouldn't have to ask permission to go there

Sauce said...

If the Preds don't average 14K next year, the city of Nashville is required to purchase the tickets needed to bring the average to that figure. It's only if the City defaults on that obligation that the Preds get the opportunity to void their lease and Basillie (note the spelling) can then move the team at will.

The Thrashers and Panthers should be moved ASAP. And don't be surprised to see Carolina in that category in the very near future. The low fan support in such populated markets is an embarrassment to the league and will never get better. It's the southeast, for crying out loud - the center of the universe for college basketball and WATER sports. And what makes anyone think that the ever-increasing Hispanic population is ripe for ICE HOCKEY?

The Devil's lack of fan base resulted in a new Newark arena for only one reason - Gary Bettman loves Lou Lamariello and hates Charles Wang. Bettman wants the center of the NY hockey rivalry to be on the Manhattan waterfront and he was willing to help in any way possible (like he did in Pittsburgh). When Stan Fischler asked Bettman about the stalled new arena for the Islanders, all Bettman would say was that he thought it had a chance because Wang supported it. He refused to say whether HE supported it, and he made no mention of the years-long holdup on the part of the Town of Hempstead on Long Island.

I agree with Vlad - a team in Quebec City is a natural. It creates a natural rivalry between the Francophones and the western provinces. Monteal used to provide that rivalry, but it has morphed into a much more international city. Quebec City is still FRENCH, and loves its hockey.

Shuck-A-Luck said...

One glitch with moving to Ontario. IT would require Board of Governors approval. Waterloo may be out of the geographic influence of Toronto/Buffalo, but it may be a matter of how many votes these two teams can sway their way.

I think a Balsillie will have lots of BOG support. He dramatically overpaid for the team and will win many friends amongst the owners by helping to drive the cost of their franchises up in the process.

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