Will the NHL cash in on expansion plan after Vegas success?

Who could have predicted this? When the National Hockey League announced that they would be putting the leagues thirty-first franchise in the desert of Las Vegas there were plenty of cynics. Not only was the NHL trying to put another team in the desert then a traditional hockey market, but many saw this as another expansion franchise that it would take years to reach relevancy. Less than a calendar year after the first puck was dropped in Sin City the Vegas Golden Knights and the NHL have hit the jackpot.

The Golden Knights proved that the new NHL expansion format could create a competitive franchise.

It’s fitting to see the Vegas Golden Knights as the team that defied all the odds in their inaugural season. Taking advantage of the new expansion draft the roster was filled with young talent and solid veterans that turned Vegas into the storyline of the season. Even with the early hardships with an injury bug that decimated the team’s goaltending depth the team still finished with one of the league’s best records at 51-24-7. Even with the team falling in five games in the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s clear that this team has a bright future.

What people aren’t talking about is what the success in Vegas means for the league’s aggressive expansion plan. Don’t forget that Gary Bettman said he could imagine a 34 team league back in 2017 and the NHL has set a fee for cities looking for an expansion franchise. In fact the league is closing in on team number 32 in Seattle has an ownership group has already started a season ticket drive and the franchise is hoping to hit the ice for the 2020-2021 season.

Gary Bettman has said he could envision a 34 team league and has been pushing for league expansion.

For a city that wants a major league franchise or looking to add another team the success in Vegas and the generous expansion draft could give a team the opportunity to be competitive from day one. With other league’s not looking into expansion and with expansion teams in the NBA, NFL, and MLB toiling in obscurity for years it makes the NHL a more enticing investment for a city that wants a major league team. Even with a $650 Million expansion fee for a new franchise, it still cheaper to get a NHL franchise then getting and NBA and NFL franchise where recent sales of franchises in those leagues have been valued in the billion dollar range.

Seattle has already had a season ticket drive and is looking to be the NHL’s 32nd franchise by 2020.

Meanwhile, the expansion would be beneficial for the owners in the league. The would receive an expansion fee from these new teams, as they would split up the expansion fees from these cities. With Seattle closing in on a team, it will be interesting to see if there will be any other movement in the NHL whether through expansion or relocation. There have been cities that have expressed interest in both the United States and Canada for potential franchises. These include cities like Quebec, Hamilton, Kansas City, and Hartford who have expressed interest in hosting a hockey franchise.

The success of the Vegas Golden Knights has been huge for the NHL. Not only do they have a successful franchise in a new market, but the league’s new expansion format has set the league up for the potential for the next wave of expansion franchises. No matter how you look at it, it’s clear the Vegas experiment has been a resounding success.

 

New buyer for XL Center the first step for the NHL in Hartford again?

Is their hope for the NHL in Hartford on the horizon? One of the biggest obstacles preventing a team playing in Connecticut’s capital is the lack of a state of the art arena, however that soon may no longer be a problem.

Formerly the Hartford Civic Center, the XL Center is now one of the oldest active arenas in the United States

The Hartford Courant has reported that Oak Street Real Estate Capital, a Chicago firm, will submit a proposal to purchase and renovate the city’s arena later this month. The XL Center, formerly the Hartford Civic Center, is one of the oldest facilities in the country and needs a major overhaul. Currently, the arena hosts concerts is home to UConn Basketball, UConn Ice Hockey, and the AHL’s Hartford WolfPack.

The offer to the city of Hartford did outline the plan to renovate the building and planned to put in over $250 Million with the intention of making it a state of the art facility. The state has proposed two options in recent years, one of which was a $250 Million dollar proposal to bring the current property up to a state of the art facility through renovation.The other, and more expensive option, was to completely tear down the existing structure and build a new arena which would have cost $500 Million.

Artist rendering of what the $250 Million renovation could look like

The outline of the deal would be $50 Million upfront from the group to the state, but the state would pay 7.5% of the renovation costs and would be subject to annual increases of two percent. This would mean at the minimum the state would invest roughly $19 Million for the reconstruction. Just to tear down the existing structure would cost $40 Million

The following is a statement from the Oak Street Group on their interest in acquiring the XL Center.

“Our interest in the XL Center stems from our larger goal of revitalizing the Hartford area. We believe that the transformation of the aging arena into a state-of-the art sports and entertainment venue can be the focal point of the city’s redevelopment and spur economic growth.”

Included in this statement, Oak Street it is ready to close on the acquisition of the building in the coming month and would send its proposal to the state for the upcoming request for proposals.

Could an upgraded arena bring back the NHL? Seattle gives Hartford a glimmer of hope.

If the XL Center is upgraded to a state of the art facility it could put the city of Hartford in the discussion for a potential NHL team. The good news for hockey fans in Hartford is there are two encouraging trends in the National Hockey League that could eventually help the city land a franchise.

The first is the league’s expansion plan. The league is already looking to add a 32nd franchise in Seattle and after a successful ticket drive, Seattle is inching closer to professional hockey. After the success of hockey in Las Vegas due to a new expansion draft that has given the Golden Knights the quality talent to earn a sweep in the first round the NHL playoffs. With the new expansion plan working it is possible that Hartford could land an expansion franchise rather than relocating an existing team.

Renderings of Key Arena in Seattle after it is upgraded into a state of the art facility to hold an NHL franchise

The second factor is that Seattle is setting a new arena precedent for attracting an NHL franchise. It was believed that the only way to attract an NHL franchise with a brand new arena. However, if Seattle is awarded an official franchise, it proves that a city can update a pre-existing arena to a modern standard rather than building a new arena. In Seattle, the plan is to extensively remodel Key Arena into a state of the art facility. If the NHL does put a team in Seattle for the 2020 season, it shows that they are willing to put a team in a state of the art facility even if it is not a brand new facility.

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Miami Heat Fans Leave Again: Spoiled Brats

19e15cc33f4008dc5deac50c79462eea_crop_northAnd the award for the worst fan base in professional sports goes to…….. the Miami Heat! Once again the so called Miami Heat fan base showed why they are the most vile and unappreciative bunch of bandwagoners in sports. While other cities pray for a championship run for once in a lifetime, Miami fans have been treated to four consecutive years of their team making it to the championship. Most NBA cities would be grateful to be in the playoffs or even have a team. Could we please relocate this team to a city like Seattle? A city that deserves a great basketball team.

Seriously, Miami Heat fans are the slime of the NBA. After the Heat fell behind in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Heat fans did what they do best. No, not get in a boisterous rant about how how the Heat are a dynasty or immediately rebuttal that they are not bandwagon fans. The Miami Heat fans once again walked out on their team during the NBA Finals.

As we already know, last year these same “fans” walked out of the same building in Game 6 when the Heat fell behind. Then of course, Ray Allen hits the shot, the Heat are back in it, and then the spoiled Heat fans had the audacity to demand to be let back into the game. However, this time they went the extra mile of booing their team. Yes boo the players that have brought you to four straight NBA Title Games, classy Miami. Way to appreciate the team that’s brought you two world championships in a row and is still alive, barely, in this series.

Listen, I hope that San Antonio wins. Not because I don’t want Lebron James to win another title but because I want a city who actually appreciates their team and would appreciate the title. Lets face it. We hate fans who only root for a team when they are winning or don’t appreciate the good fortune they have. Heck, I’m 23 and none of my teams have won a championship in my lifetime and Miami’s putrid fan base is complaining after winning two in a row?

It’s unfortunate that such a talented team is wasted on a bunch of individuals who don’t appreciate their efforts. Seriously, I think MTV should be making a reality show about Heat fans. They already have the rotten drama queens of My Sweet Sixteen, they should have a show called My Heat Seats. The life, struggles, and knowing the perfect time to leave the arena for Miami fans.True there are many great Heat fans who are there for every game and are very supportive. However, the vast majority of this fan base have now walked out on their team not once but twice.

Go ahead Miami. Leave for your clubs and overpriced tanning booths but mark my words. You better hope that this fan base doesn’t walk out on this team again. You never know what could happen. That could be strike three and then the King could to leave.