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09-25-2003, 10:15 AM
Join Date: Feb 2002
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Originally Posted by Smail
I don't think a new organisation like the WHA would be willing to give more than the lowest NHL offer to the NHLPA players. Why? First, they are lacking investors. They do not have the funds to operate such a big business. They also lack the rinks. Even if they could get some rinks at a bargain price, then again they would need the money to pay those "bargain priced" rinks. Besides, many rinks would be profitable without a hockey team, so there wouldn't be that many incentives in selling them real cheap. To top it off, current NHL owners might rather keep them and cause problems to the WHA who are "stealing" the players. A rink like the Bell Center would make more money without the hockey team, just from events.

Anyway, I doubt that the WHA would put itself in a position where they wouldn't make a profit. Also, at first they wouldn't be able to jack up prices in order to draw fans to their product. Add to that likely no tv contract, low sponsorship deals at first and I don't see them offering anything close to the lowest offer from the NHL.
As soon as the NHLPA decertifies and forms the WHAPA, the entire landscape changes. The investors come out sensing an opportunity. Having the best players in the world is what changes everything.

There are enough rinks in North America that could be used until the NHL owners are squeezed out. They can borrow the money to pay for the rinks based upon the revenues from people wanting to see the best players in the world. It would be easy to get the money if they can draw the fans.

As far as squeezing out the owners, there are two different situations: those that own their buildings and those that operate their buildings.

Those that own their own buildings are not going to find it profitable to hold onto them. I doubt that there is a building in the NHL that could be profitable without having its sole NHL tenant play. You can't pay all the operating expenses with revenues from the occasional concert. The owners have to pay taxes, insurance, maintenance, plus the opportunity cost of having their cash sunk into the building.

The teams that just control their building will be pressured as well. The municipalities that built the building did so on the premise of having 41 NHL games there each year. The NHL owners could either look to sell the operating rights for the arena or the local government could look to void the contract and grant control to another party (i.e. WHA owners).

How long do you think it would take a WHA with Thornton, Iginla, Naslund, Bertuzzi, Hossa, Heatley, etc to work out tv deals? TSN and Sportsnet would be looking for something to use to placate all the ticked off NHL advertisers that paid for their commercials based upon having the stars in the NHL.

As soon as the players move, everything else that revolves around the NHL will eventually also move.

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