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Realignment, Quebec City and SoDo Arena Renders

What a day! NHL approves realignment, Sonics ticket priority list went on sale & then the team at SonicsArena post the arena renderings with a rink.BFV09hKCcAENK0_

I want to focus on the NHL realignment. Yes, yes, things look good for Seattle for expansion with the lopsided divisions but I don’t think the league would tip their hand so obviously. I just wonder how else they could have set it up without fueling that kind of speculation. Gary Bettman had a press conference today that triggered this article out of the Phoenix Business Journal. One side note, Mike Sunnucks track record of reporting on the Coyotes situation has not been strong but usually it is over indexed in favor of the team staying (i.e. citing sources that Jamison had the money). This article is very consistent with what a lot of us have been theorizing. The Coyotes will more than likely move in the middle of the night once the season is over very similar to how the Thrashers/Jets left Atlanta. Their attendance has not really improved as noted here. I am not rooting for them to leave & just think the league really has given up trying to find a viable owner.

I believe Quebec City has a good shot at getting the Coyotes next year but they have some challenges:

  1. Exposure to the Canadian and US Dollar exchange rate. Canada has benefited greatly from an exchange rate at par but it was only ten years ago that the NHL had a Canadian Assistance Program in place to assist with the Currency discrepancy between the CAD & USD. Think of this as a rev share program for 4 of the 6 Canadian NHL teams (Habs and Leafs were the only ones that did not qualify). Everything looks outstanding in Canada right now but if the exchange rate starts to creep back to levels of 10 to 15 years ago, the smaller markets like Winnipeg, Edmonton and potentially Quebec City could start to feel a little finance challenge. I am no currency exchange rate predictor but I am sure the League needs to consider their exposure here before just moving a team that will probably sell out every game.
  2. Canada’s ability to support an expansion team better than a new market (i.e. Seattle, Kansas City, Portland etc). Elliotte Friedman from Hockey Night in Canada originally reported this as a possible NHL strategy as well putting it rather bluntly, Canadian fans will support a team regardless how poor they perform on the ice. That sounds really harsh but look at the Leafs & Oilers over the last 5 years. (This should be thought of as a compliment to Canadian fans…you guys are super passionate and it is very very respectable).

I am pegging the chances of the Coyotes moving to Quebec City somewhere in the 50% range. They have the building & a solid temp building to house the team. They also have an potential owner in Pierre Karl Peladeau, CEO of Quebecor who is kind of assumed to be the Owner of the Quebec City franchise. Which leads us to this announcement of the day: Peladeau steps down as Quebecor head. It could be coincidental but could also mean he is spending more time trying to land the Coyotes coming to Quebec City. There are no guarantees here with so many moving parts and to quote Friedman, if the NBAKings deal gets approved, Seattle is in play.

A couple quick notes on the Arena renders:
I received some great messages on Twitter and Facebook today saying how excited people got when they saw the ice in the arena. It’s like it became very real for a lot of people. Yes there were some obvious things missing like player benches, penalty boxes, Blue lines & no apparent Zamboni location. Relax, these are super early renders & the fact that they release these renders on the day they are taking the Sonics ticket priority list should speak volumes on how much Hockey is part of the dialogue. We have a great partner, let SonicsArena know how much you appreciate hockey being part of the dialogue.


John Barr
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