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. 

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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.

NY Post: Gretzky interested in NHL to Seattle. Agent: Not so fast.

Just when we expected to be go into the hockey news doldrums, the New York Post reports that none other than Wayne Gretzky is part of an ownership group that is trying to land an NHL team in Seattle.  2011 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award Presentation - Arrivals

Wayne Gretzky has joined a group of investors hoping to bring a National Hockey League team to Seattle, The Post has learned.

The Gretzky group is one of three looking to bring an NHL franchise to the home of Starbucks, sources said — but each faces an uphill battle in that league Commissioner Gary Bettman has not said the league is ready to expand

This would obviously be great news to have someone has high profile as Gretzky to help build a franchise here. But…

Gretzky’s Agent denies his involvement in a “bid”

Just 4 hours later, Sportsnet reported that Gretzky’s agent is saying this isn’t the case:

Darren Blake, Gretzky’s agent, told The Canadian Press in an email that the 53-year-old Hall of Famer isn’t involved in any bid.

“As you can imagine prospective team owners from various franchises call frequently to gauge his interest in coming on board. Seattle is no different,” said Blake.

Sportsnet is using the word “bid” which might be used carefully by Darren Blake. Both articles point out that one of the big hurdles is the arena, and until that is figured out, there really won’t be a bid. As I’ve previously shared, the NHL will need to be confident that a deal can be struck with Hansen and the City of Seattle before there will be a formal bid.

Which ownership group

If Gretzky is part of one of the groups, it is not clear which one. There should be no doubt that Gretzky can not be the lead investor on bringing the team. There has been no indication which group he could be part of should this move forward.

I have updated the NHL to Seattle diagram:

NHLtoSeattle20140705

 

No news from the BOG meeting today….

Hopefully I have set expectations appropriately and this is not a shock to anyone. Right at the very end…like the last 5 seconds. “We’re Not green lighting expansion process today.”

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=626448&catid=35&startTime=0

On the bright side, there was no talk about Quebec, Kansas City or Las Vegas either.

I am going to end this post with 3 of my favorite 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

All is quiet on the western front…

Today is the day when the NHL Board of Governors meet. If there was going to be an expansion announcement for the 2015-16 Season, today would have been the day. Based on the bettman_gary640lack of any speculation going around, I think it is safe to say we won’t hear much. Gary Bettman also gave a rather clear message when speaking to the Las Vegas Review-Journal earlier this week. This was not the normal obscure Greenspan-esque talk that we have seen before. He was speaking in context of Las Vegas but the first statement is all you need to read. Here is the quote:

“Right now, we’re not looking to expand. I know Las Vegas is an important city. Whether or not it’s a city for the NHL to put a team in is still to be determined. We have not done any investigating as to whether or not the city could support the NHL or looked at potential ownership groups. If the owners were to approve expansion, we would certainly begin looking more closely at Las Vegas and other potential markets.”

People love to blame Bettman for just about anything but he is not the gating factor. It is clear to me that the NHL is making sure he has the right cities for expansion and not just taking the first 2 with a plan or the two highest bidders. One of those cities is Seattle but it does not mean they will wait forever. The biggest hurdle that remains for Seattle is an arena. Unfortunately that has persisted since 1995 (See “today” section here). We are closer to solving that problem with the Hansen plan but like it or not, we are still dependent on the NBA.

We all know this was going to be a long process so hang in there.

By the way, I would love to be proven wrong here.

10 day countdown to the NHL Board of Governors meeting

After an amazing playoff year, the NHL is still busy as ever. Here is a look at the NHL schedule over the next couple weeks.

  • June 16: Player buy outs start
  • June 22: Schedule for 2014-15 Season released
  • June 24: NHL Awards
  • June 25: Free Agent talks can begin
  • June 26: NHL Board of Governors Meeting
  • June 27/28: Draft Day
  • July 1: Free Agent Day

As you might be able to tell, the day that we should keep our eyes on is June 26th. If and it is a big if, the NHL plans to award a conditional expansion for a targeted 2016 season, July 26th will be the time they do it. Chris Daniels, tweeted this a while back and it is consistent with Geoff Baker’s narrative most of the spring.

Based on some of the recent comments by Bettman, the City and Hansen, I don’t think we should be expecting anything. My hope is we get more color on what needs to happen to making the NHL to Seattle a reality. We know the biggest blocker in landing a team is the Arena and that arena plan is complex. The only way we here anything positive is if the NHL is relatively confident that the MOU can be reworked, a deal with Hansen/NHL group and the EIS passes in the fall.

NHLtoSeattle-20140616

NHL to Seattle Survey #1 Results

Thank you all who responded to last month’s survey. The # of responses exceed my expectations and some of the comments you all shared made me laugh and smile. If you would still like to respond, you can fill it out here & I will refresh the data every couple weeks. Here are the highlights:

Location

I asked your zip code to calculate where the audience comes from. No surprise, Seattle dominated the responses with 27.5% coming from the city limits.

cityview2

One slightly interesting note is that Tacoma had the 2nd highest response rate of all cities in the area. Note that not all responses were from people in the Seattle area. To get an idea of the high level of responses, I bucketed the responses in the following categories.

county breakdown

Favorite team

I’ve long said that Seattle hockey market is fragmented and so it is tough to know how big the community is here since there isn’t one team that people can talk about, watch at a bar or sport their merchandise. The results of the survey proved that out pretty well. All 30 NHL teams were represented and 2 former NHL teams were identified as “favorite teams”. I loved the write in votes for Seattle.

Favorite team

Vancouver on top shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. When Vancouver was in the finals, Seattle was a top 10 TV market for a few of the games (TV numbers didn’t even include the CBC fragmenting market).

Attendance Intent

attendanceIntent

Per the first bar graph at the top of the post, King County response volume doubled the sum of Pierce and Snohomish counties so although a comparable volume, it should be no surprise that King County will be the bulk of the ticket holder base. This should not be a surprise since King County has the highest population. Some interesting things about the data is the numbers outside the 3 main counties. Several people from Canada and a lot from Oregon mentioned that they would make several trips a year to check out games. On a related note, several people wrote in that they would cancel their season tickets in Vancouver if Seattle were to get a team.

Odds and ends

I could not include all the write in responses but here are some of the highlights. (I loved reading them all, even the one that said “screw Seattle, but the team in Louisiana.):

Best of luck from Massachusetts. Would love to see a team in Seattle. League is missing a major opportunity, great city, great fans.

Get it done!  I’m dying to root for my home team and to go to games!!

Go Seatlle, you’ll have a ton of people coming down from greater vancouver, just like we do for the seahawks

I love hockey but it is hard to get behind a team because I don’t have one that is local, I feel I would be much more engaged in the league and the sport if Seattle had a team.

I really hope the NHL brings a team to the Emerald City. A positive, supportive atmosphere would be sure to greet the team.

It’s time to bring the NHL to Seattle, guys like Akerley blocked it years ago, lets make it happen!

Let’s make this happen.  Not only for the highest level of professional sports, but for the growth of the game and benefits at the younger levels of the game.  For our kids!