Where will the Preds move to?

Ok all it’s time for a rousing game of, where will the Preds move to? Since Jim Balsillie, a Canadian businessman who's company invented the equivalent of work crack (the blackberry), just bought himself a new toy. First of all, if I had money the first thing I would buy is a hockey team too so good for him.

This is also a good time to mention he tried to buy the Penguins and got rebuffed because he wouldn't guarantee that he wouldn't move the team to Canada (more specifically Ontario.) The Predators (and Florida Panthers) are also the teams most likely to move, so let's look at potential options of where a team could move.
♦ Ontario He's from Ontario so it seems logical that he'd try to move a team back here. The question is where? Hamilton? Toronto? The Toronto-Hamilton metro area has 6.141M people. That's smaller than: Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington DC/Baltimore. While Canadians love their hockey, is that enough to support 2 teams?

♦ Quebec City Ahh a replacement for the Nordiques. Quebec's metro Area has 717,000 people in it. Buffalo, NY has 1.25M. I think we know why Quebec City lost their team the first time around... it's too small to support a team.

♦ Winnipeg-While they are a bigger city than Quebec City... the metro area (a better indication) is smaller at just under 700k people. By the way that's about the same size as Akron, OH.

So I think the only possible Canadian option would be Toronto, but even that is pretty risky. I just don't think the city is quite big enough to support a second team. I think there are plenty of American Cities that can support a team though:

♦ Nashville I think they are staying put. First they need to go lower than 14k average attendance to break their lease. They averaged 15k+ last season. Second they need approval from the league, and I'm not so sure Bettman is ready to give up his southern expansion ideals just yet. He has seen successful franchises in Carolina, Tampa, and Phoenix, and the golden model of Southern Franchises.. the Dallas Stars. The Preds seem to be gaining some local support and I don't think Bettman is willing to give that up yet.

♦ Kansas CityBalsillie may be a Canadian, but he's a businessman too. K.C. has a great sports town, no winter competition and a sweet arena deal waiting to be gobbled up. Any team that wants to move, well this is the first location.

♦ Seattle If the Sonics move, this would be an ideal place for a hockey team. Near Canada, a great sports city, and it would have no winter host for its arena.

♦ Las Vegas being the first league to move here would be enough to make positive headlines and Bettman is a sucker for short-term positive headlines no matter the long term consequences.

♦ Chicago I don't think it would ever ever ever get approved, but if I were an owner looking for a great Hockey town I would try everything to move here. The locals are great hockey fans (~8k per game for a minor league team) and they are so fed up with the Wirtz's I think they would come out to the games just to spite the Wirtz's. They support 2 baseball teams in the summer, and have a huge metro area. It will never happen, but it should.

So in the end, I think it's either Nashville or KC for the Preds. Basillie may try to risk it in Canada, but I just don't think Canada has another metro area big enough to support a team.

17 comments:

  1. All valid points. I think, though, that you're giving Balsillie too much credit---he won't necessarily be that rational. The deal to buy the Penguins broke down simply because Balsillie "couldn't promise" that he wouldn't move the team to Canada. He already wanted to move the Pens, so what's to say he doesn't already have plans to move the Preds?

    I can't read his mind, though, so I'm just guessing away.

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  2. 1) As we speculated today on our blog they're heading north of the border
    2) No way does Basille spend that kind of dough on a team and keep it in a low revenue market. he moves to hamilton he's guarenteed sell outs nightly
    3) The Predators were 25th in the NHL with an average attendance of 14,428, but that was total attendance including all free tickets.
    4) Their paid attendance was somewhere closer to 12,000 and the team has had a terrible time getting the Nashville corporate community to support the team.

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  3. Kansas City gets my vote, but he should be encouraged to keep the team in Nashville. Moving the team will hurt hockey in the long run.

    If he moves the team to Southern Ontario, there is enough support there as Leaf tickets are impossible to get. However, will Leaf fans go to see the Kitchener Predators?

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  4. I agree I think he wants to move the team to Canada, I just don't think he's going to be able to do it.

    Maybe I'm wong and Toronto can really handle 2 teams, but Buffalo is only 100 miles away and they have a team. Is that Niagra corridor strong enough to handle 3 teams?

    I guess there's still demand for Leafs tickets, but is there demand for "Black Sheep" Tickets?

    Good point though about Attendance, I thought I had read 15k per game but should have double-checked that. I forgot about the new giving away free tickets the NHL is doing to make attendance look better.

    Also I read, somewhere, the Preds just got some naming rights to the stadium and the playoffs 2 years in a row was starting to, finally, attract local businesses.

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  5. Some of you are probably Americans, and it may be hard for you to imagine how popular hockey is in Canada, but just take our words that it is incredibly popular. It is hard to imagine a 2nd team in Ontario not making more money. In addition, the new team near Waterloo would have a huge corporate sponsor: Research in Motion.

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  6. I understand that it's incredibly popular. I know it's to Canada what College football is to the Southern US. I've been in that environment, and it's, frankly, awsome.

    I am just unsure if southern Ontario has the amount of people needed. These people are born and bred Maple LEafs fans, I am not so sure enough will switch allegiances so easily to support a new team. I could be wrong, but from a money-making standpoint KC is a better option.

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  7. Hamilton or Seattle sounds good to me. Seattle would be great! A new rival for Vancouver!

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  8. I really hope that they stay in Nashville...I hate the team obviously but I always have a good time going to games with my cousin who loves them...so I want them to stay for personal reasons.

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  9. Kansas City would be a good choice. Larger population and more of a hockey tradition than Nashville. Little Gary will be sad to see the departure of one of the sun belt teams, but the natural in-state rivalry with St. Louis might bring him some comfort (after all, he does love artificially creating rivalries that don't have anything to do with the quality of the hockey being played).

    My question is why people don't suggest Wisconsin more. Milwaukee has the population and the hockey culture. The only winter sports distraction would be the Bucks (ha!) and the city runneth over with cheep beer. Sounds like a great hockey town to me.

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  10. Haha good point with the cheap beer send em there!

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  11. A very good point about Wisconsin, I always wondered why no one ever tried to move a team there. They have great sports fans, a pretty rich hockey tradition (UW) and some healthy metro areas.

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  12. 1) If/when Balsille gets the preds you can take it to the bank he's moving north! Else he wouldn't be involved.
    2) We agree with Kel, if given a chance, almost any decent sized canadian city would support their team. Ontario in particular is hockey nuts! If the NYC area can have 3 teams, why can't Toronto & vicinity suport 2?

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  13. The NY, Long Island, N. NJ metro area has 18.8M people there...and the Devils don't exactly get great support, and they are a great team.

    Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener has 6.25M.

    So I guess it's maybe possible. 6.25M people is about the same size as Dallas, TX metro area. I would really say that putting a second team into the Toronto area would be similar to putting a second NFL team in the Dallas area, but then playing 60 more games per season. Despite the great local interest, would it be able to hold the cities interest?

    Again I am unconvinced.

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  14. I guess you can remain unconvinced because of the total population, but the Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton areas combined has as many people as Edmonton (we're talking about metropolitan area population, a bit over a million) and the Edmonton Oilers is doing very well financially. In fact, if you count London, Ontario, an area much closer to Waterloo than Toronto, you have another 400,000 potential fans.

    I'm not saying Kansas City isn't a good choice with close to 2 million in population in its metropolitan area, but Kitchner-Waterloo has the potential of success simply by being in Canada, where no sport can rival hockey.

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  15. Hamilton? Really? The same Hamilton that won't come out and support the AHL franchise they currently have? During the playoffs?

    I see Balsillie to make a go of it in Nashville for about 2-5 years, then throwing up his hands and moving the team. KC will be long gone buy then (KC Panthers), so he'll have the league's ok to move to Canada. Where? Don't know, but I could see Toronto and Buffalo (who have final say so if anybody moves into their territory) saying no to anything in the Ontario area.

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  16. Good points Mike. See i think Nashville is where they will stay for at least 5 years. I just think there are too many people who don't want them to move to the Canada area, like bettman, to keep them from moving there.

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  17. Listen, there will be no "black sheep" team. The reason why hamilton doesnt support its AHL team is because its the AHL. We torontonians are pissed off at the leafs in many ways, it is not the fans buying the tickets its the corporations and long time season ticket holders that are. I dont see the team moving very close to toronto just because the Leafs will never let it happen. They are fixed on monopolizing the sport industry in the greater toronto area. THey own the leafs, the raps, the rock, and the FC. When the team moves here it will probably end up in KW. There are 2 universities here accounting to almost 50,000 students and another 3 universities within a 40 minute drive not inluding being less than an hour away from millions of hockey fans who wont even be able to watch the leafs after CBC loses the hockey night in canada contract. A second team in the toronto area would not just sell out, they would sell out at prime ticket price, especially if its a talented team like nashville. I cant wait to see the leafs have some real competition. Buffalo may be down the road but the team is still AMERICAN, and whoever is willing to go through American customs and see an american team is a crazy fan indeed.

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