The NHL to Seattle Weekly roundup

We had a wild week. I have highlighted some of the most impactful articles, podcasts and other content that framed the week. It might be obvious, but I don’t agree with everything I am sharing but I still wanted to show some of the more interesting articles on the topic at hand.

Two initial reports set the stage and speculation on NHL expanding to Seattle.

  • Gallagher: Bettman has changed his tune on NHL expansion – This initial report seemed to reiterate a lot of what we have heard over the last 9 months with relatively no new insight with the exception of Las Vegas being a “done deal” other than picking an owner. (Let’s forgive the oxymoron in that sentence). This did not shock me or anyone else that has been all over this saga. I interpreted the done deal as maybe the NHL is convinced it could work in Vegas.
  • Howard Bloom tweets that NHL will expand 4 more teams by 2017 – This tweet kicked off a ton of articles with one that seemed to give it more credibility, the SI article. My opinion is that I am sure somewhere at NHL Headquarters there is a roadmap or a strategy document that probably has all four of those cities as potential expansion and relocation targets or options, it is not necessarily the plan of record. Having looked at Howard Bloom’s content on his website and his twitter account, I do not give it a lot of weight.

Denials from the NHL

It took less than 12 hours for mainstream hockey press to get the NHL’s take on the reports. Here are some of the notable articles on the denials.

The local perspective

Although other Seattle news outlets started reporting on the news, the NHL to Seattle mainstays, Geoff Baker from the Seattle Times and Chris Daniels from King5 weighed in.

CDtweets

Other interesting insight and notable opinions.

  • Half Of The NHL’s Rumored Expansion Cities Don’t Make Sense – article from Nate Silver’s 538 says Seattle and Vegas don’t make sense because…wait for it. Buried a link and 10 paragraphs in, people are not searching for “NHL” on google enough. Yes, that is the basis of the claim. In the referenced article, it also says “Sudbury-Thunder Bay” could better support a team. Keep in mind that those two cities are only 12 hours away from each other and have about 100,000 people in each of those cities so I am not sure where they anticipate putting an arena. Most of the people I talk to have been fairly critical of 538 since it moved over to ESPN. The unfortunate part about this article is that most people don’t read far enough to understand the methodology and/or have the time to fact check some of the claims in the article. By the way, I am sure NBC and Rogers would love a Sudbury vs Moncton Stanley Cup final matchup.
  • Duhatschek: NHL shift on expansion thinking came more than a year ago – I enjoy the globe and mail (most of the time). There were several articles that validated that expansion is coming, this is just one of the better ones.
  • Canzano: When the NHL is ready, Paul Allen is waiting in the ‘Shark Tank’ – I have never counted out Portland and this article sums up their position fairly nicely. My take, if Paul Allen wants an NHL team, he can probably get one. If (and that is a big If) the whole Arizona Coyotes thing does not work itself out, Portland could be a destination.

The irony of this whole week is that if news like this broke in October or November, we would not have heard 10% of the volume we heard this week. Writers are itching for some content to write about while in season I am hanging on Bettman and Daly’s every word to hear something about Seattle. We are going to be riding a rollercoaster for a while but we have to be patient. Try not to get too up or too down on these reports. It all takes time and to steal a phrase from Chris Daniels, there are lots of moving parts.

 

About these ads

Keep Calm…there is nothing to see here.

Lots of news from yesterday but I am here to throw a wet blanket on “the report” that the NHL will expand to Las Vegas, Toronto, Quebec and Seattle by 2017. Maybe I’ve seen this city get their heartbroken of the Sacramento Kings last spring, or the hockey community let down by a vote in Glendale last July. It could also be that I’ve been following every detail of this story and know how one tweet can start of firestorm of articles that multiplies by the hour.

“The Report”HockeyView_SonicLevel3

The original “report” was really just a referenced tweet by some guy who had around 6000 followers. Most people claimed that SI (Sports Illustrated) was reporting the news but they were just reporting the report. Huh? Yep…that’s unfortunately how things happen these days. Once people saw the SI report it spread like wildfire with just about every news outlet reporting the report of the report. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to see the NHL to Seattle being discussed on the national stage. The reality is that this is not really news and not really credible.

Seattle and the NHL

Seattle is a great market for a Hockey team and the NHL knows it. In fact they have known it for a while. If you have followed King 5 Reporter, Chris Daniels or Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker, they have made it clear that the NHL likes this market based on discussions those guys have had with NHL brass. Don’t believe me? What about these quotes from 2013:

“The research that I have seen tells me that it would be a very strong hockey market. …Obviously if there were a team in Seattle it would create a decent rivalry with their northern neighbor, namely Vancouver.” – Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner

 
“But I think it’s safe to say we’re very intrigued by the Pacific Northwest generally. Going forward I would expect that to the extent expansion comes into the picture or relocation is needed, I’m sure the Pacific Northwest is going to get serious consideration.” – Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner

 

“With the [new] arena in Seattle, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put hockey back into the Seattle/Portland marketplace and we have to make a commitment to that.” – Tim Leiweke, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment CEO

A Roadmap?

Seattle, Las Vegas, Toronto and Quebec have probably been identified or prioritized at NHL headquarters as potential expansion or relocation markets. That is not really saying much now is it? Vegas might be the odd one in there but there might be other factors that us fans don’t see. I imagine the list includes Portland, Kansas City and Houston. As a business, the NHL needs to know what potential markets exits if a situation comes up that they want to expand or relocate a team.

 

Who can I trust?

That is a great question. I’ve been following this so long that I take just about everything I read with a grain of salt. Remember when Darrly Katz toured Key Arena? Well I do, so excuse my cynicism. Although they are not always right since a lot of this stuff is fluid, I go to Chris Daniels and Geoff Baker for my local perspective. On a national level, I like Elliot Freedman, Ken Campbell and James Mirtle.

 

And as I wrap up, here come the denials:

NHL denies expansion report, including a second team in Toronto

Tim Leiweke of the Maple Leafs calls expansion reports “just not true”

The Chris Daniels Radio Show Tour Archive

When Chris Daniels breaks some interesting arena news, he hits the airways. Here is a rundown of the shows he did on Tuesday. Occasionally Chris will give a little more context or insight to what was already reported. If you have the time, it is worth a listen.

Michael Grey Show on 710AM

Ian Furness Show on 950 KJR (Good nugget at the 12 minute mark)

The Moj Show on Team 1040 Vancouver BC – Daniels section is roughly the 30 minute mark

Chris was also on 1090 The Fan but from what I can tell, there is no archive. .

 

For good measure, here are a couple articles from main Canadian media.

Vancouver native seeking NHL team in Seattle (Toronto Sun)

Report: Prospective NHL owner reaches ‘non-binding agreement’ with Seattle arena developer (The Score)

Prospective Seattle NHL franchise owner breaks his silence

Earlier this evening, Chris Daniels from King5, shared info and a conversation with prospective Seattle NHL franchise owner, Victor Coleman. The article was full of important information and is one of the few times we have heard from one of the potential owners. Please read the entire article here and I will break down some of the critical pieces.

PSBJ Survey Crop

Survey results from the Puget Sound Business Journal

First off….

“I think the demographic base (in Seattle) and the desire of the NHL in that marketplace is the perfect match right now.  The expansion of the NHL into the Pacific Northwest, with Vancouver and the presiding area, makes it a perfect fit,” said Coleman.  “There are built in synergies.  That’s a ‘Day 1’ rivalry.”

There sounds great but there isn’t much that a lot of us know. We have had Bettman and Daly both speak well of the market & several NHL governors have spoken highly of the opportunity as well. A ton of you have confirmed this with your desire to purchase Season tickets. It is awesome to hear a prospective owner believe in the market but I expect that from an owner.

Coleman and co-investor Jonathan Glaser, who sits on the board of Hudson Pacific, met face to face with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine in separate meetings in Seattle.  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly were also on hand.  The parties all left without an agreement or plan to move forward.  Coleman says he feels like he’s made progress since.

“We have a clear path,” he said.

Key piece here is the last bit. He has made progress since and “clear path”. The City of Seattle’s position and role in this has been a little unclear. Yes, we have heard the Mayor and other city council members say there is no plan to change the MOU. Many reports suggest it is the risk associated to the NHL first vs. the NBA in the case of default and less about the financial (recovery) projections. Specifically, it is the value of an NHL franchise vs. the NBA. Forbes Valuations are historically in accurate but at least you can get a feel for the difference between the leagues (Forbes links: NHL and NBA). If that is the case, the prospective ownership group would need to do something to mitigate that risk. This is responsible by the city and can be resolved under the right situation.

Two sources with knowledge of the talks between Hansen and Coleman say that the two potential owners met in person a couple of weeks ago, and have been actively talking for months. In fact, according to the sources, the two potential ownership groups have signed a “non-binding” agreement which lays out the terms for Coleman’s contribution to the project and his potential revenue streams for a hockey franchise.

That is the money quote from the article right there. We have generally thought this was happening and to hear they could have a non-binging agreement is excellent. The best thing about it is that both Hansen and Coleman are actively working on a solution.

“There is obviously a deal in place that can get done,” said Coleman. “The semantics by which it gets done, and the priorities by which it gets done, are going to depend on city officials, the county, and the Hansen group.”

That just about sums up where we are at. We could be waiting for an NBA team or we might not but it sounds like they are moving to a framework that could land the NHL in Seattle. There is a lot of work to be done here and there are no guarantees so be patient with the League, Potential Owners and Elected Officials. There has been no call to action, rallies or public hearings but when the time comes you will know.

The Blue Jays are in town and out come the Canadians

I have often thought there are a lot of Canadians in the Seattle area. I do hang out in Hockey Circles so that might explain my theory which is obviously biased but I have met plenty that don’t play hockey. Last year I found myself outside Safeco before a Mariners game where I couldn’t help to notice all the Blue Jays Fans walking into the game. I have always thought there have been a lot of Canadians in the area so I looked to determine if there was a material difference in attendance when the Jays are in town. And boy, did I ever…..

TorontoBlueJays2
Over the last 5 years, Toronto has the third highest attendance for midweek games in June-August. And when you exclude interleague games, Toronto has 4 of the the 15 highest attended games in that same time frame. Keep in mind that neither team was playing particularly well over the last 5 years.

Top15 Games

Although it might not be the most scientific research, it implies there are a lot of Canadians in the area that come out for the Blue Jays.

 

Looking in the rearview mirror: Glendale City Council is back in the news

When news broke yesterday that Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers asked the Arizona state attorney general to investigate the City Council members violation of the open meeting policy, I intentionally did not share or comment on any of news. Whether it be Sacramento, Glendale or Broward County, I try to stay out of other cities local politics. I do not appreciate people from jobingoutside our area to comment on our local issues and it would be hypocritical for me to comment on some other municipalities issues. It is also important to move forward. It is not worth my time or energy looking back unless it involves learning something for the future.  

Over the last 24 hours I received several emails, DMs, mentions and text messages on the news out of Glendale Arizona that makes me feel it is important enough to comment on the news. Here are my thoughts:

  • Let the process play out. I am not an attorney that knows the law or has the details of what transpired. My opinion on the legal issues do not matter. Let the professionals do their work.
  • I feel for the fans and the players. Just when everyone is moving forward and trying to turn this franchise around, they have to deal with this again. 
  • Distraction for the league. If the worst case scenario happens and the contract with IceEdge is deemed null and void, this creates a debacle for the ownership, league, team and city. I would rather see the league & team move forward….(and focus on expansion). 
  • Interesting timing. Is it possible that Jerry Weiers waited until the league and owners had their hands tied so that the team would have to play in Glendale next season without the Operating $ the city is currently required to pay? I don’t know but the timing seems a little interesting. 
  • Could the Coyotes come to Seattle for 2014? No. I don’t know how long the State Attorney would take to perform the investigation. Even if they wrapped it up by the end of July and voided the agreement with the IceEdge group, they could not possibly be up and running by October. 

People that have been here a while or know me on a personal level, know that I have never been an advocate for relocation. I believe in this sport so much that I think it can be successful anywhere. Glendale has failed once and only once. Much like several other teams in hockey hot beds, they deserve a second chance. Lets give them this shot and hope that they are successful. I know plenty of people from Arizona that agree if this chance does not work out then maybe a team can’t be successful in Glendale. In the meantime, I am rooting for a quick resolution to this issue and a turnaround for the Coyotes. 

Broward County hires a consultant to evaluate options for Panthers

News broke Friday that Broward County is hiring a consultant to evaluate options for the Florida Panthers who are currently asking for another $80M in subsidies from the counties to reduce the alleged hemorrhaging of money. As you can imagine, speculation ran rampant from here to Quebec City.

Population of South Florida

Population by city in South Florida

Let’s step back and evaluate how we got here:

It definitely seems like the mayor is on the defense a bit. This is a report from February and it appears that she does not have a solid stance right now, hence the consultant.

There is a couple ways to look at this latest development:

  1. County is being responsible to getting an expert to weigh their options. They will need to pay the arena debt with or without the Panthers so it is good to know the cost/benefit of their options.
  2. The consultant could be paid to tell them the answer they want to hear (i.e. “we can’t afford to let them leave.”)

 

One of my biggest issues with all of this is if the team was hemorrhaging cash, why did Vincent Viola buy the team? Certainly we would have evaluated his investment. I don’t think the Panthers are going anywhere, the team appears to make money for the owner. That said, the numbers may have changed since the full season lockout.

FloridaPanthers Attendance

Attendance has been relativity flat: 2011-12 had a playoff run and 2012-13, all the games were played from mid-January on, a time of year where they draw more fans not to mention it had the excitement of a shortened season. According to Team Marketing Report, the Panthers had the 3rd lowest ticket prices in the league last season only behind Dallas and Colorado (two playoff teams that will undoubtedly see their ticket prices go up.)

If the threat is real, I don’t see Seattle as an option. With Quebec’s new arena near completion, that would probably be the target. The challenges that remain for Quebec are ownership and the Canadian dollar exposure.