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My Take On The Phoenix to Winnipeg Rumors

Posted By Shane Hoopfer On Mar 9 2010 @ 12:05 am In Around The Rinks | 1 Comment

Could Winnipeg really be getting an NHL team back?

As most of you know I let you know a few weeks ago that Scott Taylor in Winnipeg reported a bunch of meetings etc. with the end goal being moving the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg. It indeed sounded insane but when a “respected journalist” will put those words down under his name I’ll pass the word on.

Recently there have been rumblings out of the ‘peg that these discussions were in fact real but it was not the Atlanta Thrashers but the Phoenix Coyotes that would pick up and leave to the wonderful winter wasteland of Manitoba. The Manitoba Moose of the AHL would move to Saskatoon, and in turn the Saskatoon Blades would move to Estevan SK.

Obviously folks in Winterpeg shouldn’t be running to the ticket office to buy their season tickets for 2010-11 but it is starting to make some sense and here is why…

The Ice Edge group is having some difficulties in either their ownership group or with the city of Glendale or this deal would already be done. Or at least done in principle.

The rest of the NHL owners can not be happy about the fact that each team could be pumping in two million dollars to cover the Coyotes losses this year. (That’s the number I have heard)

The same owners also bought this team in bankruptcy court so each team can be into this as much as SIX MILLION dollars at the end of this season. Which means you need someone to buy this team and either keep it in Glendale or buy it and move it with the total cost equaling 180 MILLION DOLLARS! And that is just to essentially break even on the deal.

Now the big question becomes is Winnipeg truly viable as an NHL city?

My answer is yes with an asterisk. The asterisk is David Thompson (The fella that owns the MTS Center) would have to be the owner of the team in my mind to make it work. Here is what I have come up with that makes sense to me…

The MTS center can be expanded to 16000-17000 people. OK. Most mid market teams average 15000 people a game. And over the 14000 mark that the NHL requires for paid attendance.

The MTS Center also has it’s fancy boxes and all that good stuff for additional revenue.

The city of Winnipeg’s population is a little over 700K, which is light for a pro team standards but no question they should be able to fill the building.

These are all good points as to why the team should be there. But there are concerns on why it shouldn’t be also.

The biggest complaint is corporate money. While there is not much for major head offices in Winnipeg they should have some corporate support. Though it may not be to an ideal level.

Another complaint (amazingly) is the lack of a 5 star hotel! I guess this could be an issue.

Does 15000 paid seats make for a viable NHL franchise on it’s own with minimal corporate help. No!

So here is where my asterisk comes into effect. If the man that owns the building also owns the team then all profits out of the building make up for the other financial shortfalls. Remember Mr. Bettman always has talked about having the “right ownership in place.”

In this case if Mr. Thompson is the person trying to buy the team and send them north then with him owning the building it makes sense to me. I honestly don’t believe another ownership group could make it work in Winnipeg right now because of the building and smaller fan base etc.

I’m throwing it out there for you all to discuss. Do I think it’s going to happen? My brain says hell no. My gut is telling me maybe there is something to this. I’ll let you make your own mind up but until it’s officially announced by the NHL then everything is just pure speculation.

Have a good one!

Follow me on twitter! www.twitter.com/shanehoopfer

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