How does a city get an NHL team?

The key for any city to get an NHL Team is to:

1) have an arena

2) have a willing and able owner or ownership group

3) have an available team either through relocation or expansion.

It pretty much needs to happen in that order the right ownership group can influence all of them. ATL to Winnipeg had all three. PHO to Winnipeg had the first two.

  • Seattle is the 14th largest metropolitan area in the states by population, only Houston and now Atlanta are bigger cities without NHL Teams. Minneapolis, St. Louis, Tampa, Pitt, Denver, Columbus, Nashville, Buffalo, Raleigh all have NHL Teams in smaller cities. My thought is an NHL Team in Seattle would be very similar to St. Louis and Denver. Minn, Buff & Pitt are hockey towns and not really comparable. Nash & Raleigh are great showcases that an NHL team can thrive in a non-traditional hockey market with a strong ownership group. Jury is still out for Columbus and Tampa Bay.
  • Seattle is very appealing from a corporate sponsorship perspective since so many companies have headquarters here. This makes it much more appealing for a more sustainable business for ownership groups.
  • NHL fans tend to be higher educated and wealthier compared to other professional sports….Seattle has similar demographics.

Other items/theories:

  • Tampa Bay, Florida and Phoenix are the most likely franchises to move in the next 2 to 5 years. (I believe Florida is less likely to move with a local ownership group) It may sound crazy but I think the New York Islanders could be a franchise that could be sold and moved.
  • No data to support this but based on my completely unscientific assessment, it feels like there are a lot of Canadians in the Puget Sound thus increasing the % of potential hockey fans in the area vs. other US cities like Houston. (I also feel there are a lot of people from Michigan but that could because I hang out with hockey players.)
  • Vancouver Canucks have some of the highest ticket prices in the league so just basic supply and demand would keep prices a little elevated compared to places like Nash, LA, TB (all places that you can find close to $25 face value tix). I’m implying that people would be coming south over the border for a more affordable game and/or people would not travel north for Van games as often.
  • This a small and growing trend of (professional) hockey players coming from non-traditional hockey player markets in the states. I would have to search for the stories but last NHL draft had someone from Vegas, Phoenix and maybe LA taken in the first round or two. This is good for the popularity of hockey in the states. I’ve wanted to analyze the US Junior squad as well. (I know quantity of players from these markets is still tiny compared to Minn, Mass and Mich).
  • Controversial topic & My opinion only: Because of the last collective bargaining agreement (Salary Cap), the economics for mid to lower market cities and ownerships makes franchises more sustainable. Interesting question to explore is could Winnipeg support a team if the team payroll was 10Mil higher?  (watch the TSN why not Canada)
  • OkCity and KC used to be frontrunners for NHL Teams since they have arenas…that talk has gone very quiet in the last 3 years, probably because they lack an ownership group.

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