And we're back!
Started by Barrister, March 07, 2011, 12:49:03 PM
QuoteIs Winnipeg a viable NHL market? Globe and Mail Update Posted on Monday, March 7, 2011 11:19AM EST0 comments Email Tweet Print/License Decrease text size Increase text size With speculation mounting that the announcement of the Phoenix Coyotes' relocation is both inevitable and imminent, we asked our team of hockey writers if they think Winnipeg is now positioned to be a viable, long-term NHL market. ROY MACGREGOR Of course it will work. One of the simplest historical interpretations of the National Hockey League in the modern era is that Wayne Gretzky caused the league to go insane. No Gretzky, no spike in casual/celebrity interest in the game in the U.S.A. - and no "southern footprint" along with expansion madness. Gretzky has been out of the game since 1999 and now, a dozen years later, the NHL is finally recovering from its bout of delusion. Hockey is a northern game. Hockey is a gate-driven game. Hockey is a television success where there is an appetite for the game. More related to this story•Are Winnipeg's NHL prayers about to be answered?•Report: City of Glendale inches towards hockey lawsuitAll this works in Winnipeg's favour. Add in the healthy Canadian dollar, surely to stay high for a long, long time, and take into consideration the growth and economic well-being of Winnipeg - not to mention a serviceable new rink - and you have a situation where teams like the Phoenix Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers and Florida Panthers and who knows what else could actually have a chance at filling the stands with real tickets rather than giveaways that even then don't fill a rink. Canadians used to shout "Go Jets Go!" Time now to yell "Come Jets Come!" It will work out just fine. ALLAN MAKI As an NHL landing place, Winnipeg comes with questions. Is it big enough? Rich enough? Viable enough with a slightly under-sized arena in its downtown core? But here's the $165-million (US) question: where the heck else is the NHL going to plunk its Phoenix Coyotes? Kansas City has fallen off the list of possibilities. So that leaves, what, Houston, Portland, Seattle, Duluth, Minn.? Three things make Winnipeg the best choice for the Coyotes, so long as the NHL wants to stay out of Southern Ontario. One, the city and its fans want the team. Two, there's likely to be sufficient local ownership to keep the team going, something that wasn't there the first time around with the Winnipeg Jets. Three, the Canadian dollar is once again a healthy marker, and while that can't always be counted on, it is a compelling factor for a troubled U.S. hockey team in need of a rescue. As an NHL returnee, Winnipeg may have issues long-term, especially with its arena's seating capacity (less than 16,000). That could mean having to increase ticket prices to produce more revenue, a move that could alienate and squeeze out the common fan. But with the Coyotes operating on limited time – and the Atlanta Thrashers already being linked to Quebec City – where else is the NHL going to go? It's either relocation or retraction. And if there's still money to come from somewhere, then it's like that old TV commercial said, "Goin' to Winnipeg." ERIC DUHATSCHEK Winnipeg is well-positioned now to survive and even succeed in the NHL, but much of its long-term viability will depend upon two factors that require some prescient crystal-ball gazing: 1. Will the Canadian dollar continue to hover at or near or even above par vis-a-vis its U.S. counterpart? 2. How will the collective bargaining agreement between owners and players look after 2012, when the current deal expires and a whole lot of new demands by both sides could fundamentally change the way the business of hockey is run? Under the current CBA, Winnipeg would likely qualify for revenue sharing because it fits into the classic definition of a small-market team. The building is relatively undersized by NHL standards; and its local TV revenues would likely be no match for what they earn in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and elsewhere around the NHL. Even corporate sponsorship will be an issue, especially in the long term. Chances are, lots of companies will jump on the bandwagon early, fuelled by the excitement of the NHL's possible return to Manitoba. Is there enough support in the business community over time to fill the luxury suites and pay the high-end ticket prices needed to sustain a system that has changed a lot since the Jets bolted for Phoenix 15 years ago. Remember, sticker shock - for tickets - will be an issue for some, who are used to paying AHL prices to watch the Manitoba Moose play. In short, there will be obstacles and if, in a decade's time, the Canadian dollar starts to slide down to its more traditional values against the U.S. currency, some of the issues that saw the Jets leave in the first place could rise again. Of course, if that happens, they'll have company too - in Ottawa, Edmonton and maybe even Calgary, all of whom were on the edge of the precipice soon after Winnipeg left and managed to survive long enough to see the changes in the industry model that have then thriving - for now. SEAN GORDON I applaud Roy's optimism, and would love to agree, but there are a few factors that could make it tough for Winnipeg to make a go of it over a 20-year horizon. Yes, the rink is newish, but no, it's not as capacious as other NHL barns, nor are the luxury box revenues going to match those in other cities. Having the richest family in Canada - and the country's finest newspaper owners! - as part of the ownership group will certainly help, having someone not averse to losing a few million here or there is of capital importance in today's NHL. Regional TV rights are a different ballgame now, but the big problem, according to several Winnipeggers of my acquaintance, is that an average ticket price of $100 - likely the minimum required to sustain half-way decent revenues - could be a pinch in a town with few corporate heavyweights to hoover up ducats and where people remember what it used to cost to see the Jets 1.0. It'll happen, a team will move there and there will be a long and ardent honeymoon, but I think it's rash to assume that the Loonie won't tank at some point over the next quarter-century. And if the team sucks? Lots of folks can tell you about nights where the old Winnipeg Arena only had 6,000-8,000 souls to watch the beloved Jets. DAVID SHOALTS At this point, the best you can say is Winnipeg will be a better NHL market than Phoenix or Atlanta. The long-term prospects are rather blurry for several reasons, most of which were cited by my colleagues. Eric is right in that the Canadian dollar and the new collective agreement will have an as-yet-unknown impact on a Winnipeg franchise, particularly the dollar, should it return to pre-lockout levels. However, I think the major factors will be what they always are: the willingness of the local fans and businesses to buy high-end tickets and luxury boxes, the size of local broadcasting revenue and the willingness of the owners to write cheques every year to cover the losses. At this point, the Winnipeggers have one out of three. As an aside, I am sure Winnipeg is going to get an NHL team in the next three to five years, and probably Quebec as well, but I am not 100-per-cent sure the Phoenix Coyotes will be the first franchise to move. Gary Bettman has moved heaven and earth to keep Phoenix, which is a large television market, in the league. I don't think he is finished pulling rabbits out of hats yet, although time is running short. But even if this bond sale gets back on track for the Coyotes, the Atlanta Thrashers are not long for the south and there are other candidates as well. The NHL owners do not want to go back to Winnipeg but they will if the only alternative is losing more money, which means Bettman is down to weeks to pull this off. And don't think the six Canadian teams will fall all over themselves to roll out the Welcome Home signs. The Winnipeg Jets 2.0 means the national Canadian broadcast revenue will, at some point (I'm sure part of the deal will be the Jets won't get any for a while), be divided by seven rather than six. What makes a good hockey market is not the willingness of the fans to buy tickets when the team is winning, as too many of those connected to the Coyotes embarrassment think. What makes a good hockey market is the willingness of the fans to do so when the team is playing .500 hockey or worse. A move from one of the best places to live in North America during the winter to one of the worst is not going to result in a group of enthusiastic players, at least not in the first few years, so do not expect the recent on-ice success of the Coyotes to continue. There will be much unhappiness in those player households, particularly those of the married ones. It tends to be forgotten or brushed aside, although not by my esteemed colleagues, that Winnipeg fans were not always willing to pay to see the Jets play. And that was in the days of $17-million payrolls. Owners will tell you it is not what fans pay for your cheap seats that creates profits, it is what corporations and wealthy fans will pay for the luxury suites, club seats and the best tickets. I don't think Winnipeg's corporate base is much bigger than it was 15 years ago and the city as a whole is not wealthier. This still means the city will create more revenue for an NHL team than Glendale, Ariz., but the owners will not strike gold even if the arena is expanded, something else that has to happen for the team to survive. Local broadcast revenue will be better than it is in Phoenix, but it will never compare to the big-market teams. Thus it comes down to the willingness of the owners to write cheques every year to pay for the losses rather than try to squeeze it out of the local yokels. Here is where Winnipeg has it all over a lot of NHL cities, so in the end I must agree, it will work as an NHL market.
Quote from: Grey Fox on March 07, 2011, 01:00:31 PMGawd. Having team in the south serves who?
Quote"This is a Russian warship. I propose you lay down arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed & unnecessary victims. Otherwise, you'll be bombed."Zmiinyi defenders: "Russian warship, go fuck yourself."
Quote from: Valmy on March 07, 2011, 01:05:29 PMQuote from: Grey Fox on March 07, 2011, 01:00:31 PMGawd. Having team in the south serves who?I saw a bunch of Austin kids playing in our pee wee hockey league a couple years ago and they were all wearing sweaters of their favorite teams. I found it telling that the numbers of Bruins. Habs, Leafs, Red Wings, and Rangers sweaters were each about on par with the Stars. Even the local kids know the northern teams are cooler.Anyway the NHL's delusions of becoming bigger than Elvis have clearly failed. A retreat to the north or contraction are the only options.
Quote from: Barrister on March 07, 2011, 01:08:35 PMAny Jets sweaters?
Quote from: Grey Fox on March 07, 2011, 01:11:20 PMDallas works no?I wonder, what makes Tampa bay a working market, while Sunrise sucks?
Quote from: Valmy on March 07, 2011, 01:10:32 PMQuote from: Barrister on March 07, 2011, 01:08:35 PMAny Jets sweaters? No. No Caps either
Quote from: Barrister on March 07, 2011, 01:08:35 PMAny Jets sweaters?
Quote from: Barrister on March 07, 2011, 01:17:54 PMAnd I ave nothing against southern teams per se. In particular since Minnesota got a team again, I'm happy to have the Stars stay put.
Quote from: viper37 on March 07, 2011, 01:45:17 PMI dream of a Coyote-Trashers Stanley Cup final
QuoteNothing's clear when it comes to Winnipeg March 7, 2011 11:24 AM | Comments1Recommend7By Elliotte FriedmanFans hold up signs as the Phoenix Coyotes warmup before an NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks earlier this season. According to a report in The Arizona Republic, the financially-troubled Coyotes have lost $40 million US this season. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images) If there's one thing we've learned about Winnipeg, Phoenix or Atlanta, it's anyone who claims they know what's going to happen is kidding themselves, and you. All I can say is this: When the Winnipeg rumours surfaced last season, plenty of people who know a helluva lot more than I do said such discussion was premature. Now, those same people believe that while relocation is not the NHL's preferred option, there is a realization the time is coming.On Sunday, The Arizona Republic reported the Coyotes have lost $40 million US this season. That would push Matthew's Hulsizer's purchase price to $210 million. Of course, Hulsizer might not be able to close the deal because Glendale's about to become Lawsuit City in its battle with corporate watchdog The Goldwater Institute. "No offence to the Coyotes," said one source, "but who would really want to get into the middle of that?"The team's on- and off-ice employees deserve much better, but the NHL's other owners want closure. You'll remember, Glendale pledged to fund $25 million in losses for this season, but the newspaper's figure beats that, significantly. And now, we've got another five-alarm blaze in Georgia.Like any Canadian, I'd love to see the Jets (and Nordiques) return. However, there are some legitimate questions to ask. Winnipeggers won't like this, but there is some significant skepticism despite their passion. The NHL's done several detailed analyses of the market. (I'm aware of two, apparently, there were more.) According to a couple of sources, the league estimates revenues of approximately $70 million per season. That would be lowest among Canadian teams.Ask several financial wizards if you can survive in the NHL with $70 million (plus any additional monies from a very successful MTS Centre), and many of the answers are negative. Luckily for Winnipeg, the only ones that matter belong to the prospective owners, Mark Chipman and the Thomson family."Anyone who thinks they are committing $170 million to this without believing they can make it work is wrong. They know what they're doing," says one Manitoba supporter. (That figure is the purchase price for the Winnipeg group.)The good news is that $70 million in revenues would double Phoenix's totals and be approximately $20 million more than Atlanta's. And, even though the Jets would be a revenue-sharing team, other owners would find that much more palatable than funding losses.The feel-good story in the NHL right now is Buffalo. The Sabres are re-energized by an owner who walked in, teared up at the sight of Gilbert Perreault and pledged to build a champion. In Chipman and the Thomsons, the Jets have that passion and financial power.That's the difference between Winnipeg and Phoenix, which has a prospective owner who is drowning in legal quicksand. That's the difference between Winnipeg and Atlanta, in an emergency search for investors. Gary Bettman's proven over and over again that only a fool underestimates him in hopeless-looking situations. But, across the NHL, a northern wind is blowing.
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