Man, this would be awesome. I know the ECHL isn't great quality and normally I don't have alot of interest in minor league hockey, but a team here in Brooklyn would be so cool. Although I think if a hockey team was to come here, they would get better crowds if they increased the capacity of Abe Stark Rink at Coney Island because that is much easier to get to via public transportation, but this would be a great idea.
Everything I've heard and the pictures I've seen indicate to me that the venue is simply not up to pro standards both for seats and facilities. People around here seem to think the ECHL is some kind of semi-pro beer league that can't draw paying customers. The Checkers draw considerably more than the WolfPack and well over the AHL average. The ECHL average attendance is only about 1000 less than the AHL's, and that's dragged down by the abysmal drawing power of the Cinicinatti Cyclones, who won't be around next year.
The Danbury Ice Arena was the smallest arena hosting pro hockey last season. If you've never been there, it's a bandbox. But it still seated 3000, as opposed to the 2100 in Brooklyn. Even SPHL teams play to bigger crowds than that.
I said the same thing, and then I looked on their site and it says they changed their name "from the East Coast Hockey league to just the ECHL". It doesn't even stand for anything. That is the officially the dumbest thing I've ever heard. It'll always be the East Coast League in my mind.
On a related note. KFC did the same thing. It's not called Kentucky Fried Chicken anymore. I think that might be even dumber than the ECHL thing.
Their average this seson is 3,925 spectator per game. Less than 1000 of the league average (4,966)
Charlotte Checkers (Rangers affiliate) average attendance this season: 5491
MSG better find something close to NYC for their AHL and ECHL development teams... North Carolina is just too far away for an Eastern Conference team who has the luxury to have their affiliate closer to "home" unlike Vancouver, LA, Anaheim or San Jose.
Flyers - Phantoms: Both in Philly
Maple Leafs - Marlies: Both in Toronto
Blackhawks - Wolves (although not affiliated): Both in Chicago
I think MSG can do better than Connecticut and N. Carolina!
Just a note -- the smallest arena hosting pro hockey this season is Chaparral Ice in Austin, where the CHL Ice Bats moved to reduce costs when they didn't like the deal they were getting from the Expo. It's a converted rec rink, that has sold out every single game.
It looks like the Rangers will be planting an ECHL team in Brooklyn. The proposed site is the new Aviator Sports Complex at Floyd Bennett Field. ECHL President Brian McKenna tells us that he has not been officially approached by the Blueshirts but the league would love to have a franchise in the Big Apple. The Rangers current ECHL affiliation is with Charlotte. But the Garden and Aviator are partners, making the move to Brooklyn a natural
Couple of points: the arena in Charlotte is beautiful and there is a hard core fan base there. Even if the Rangers move, it will continue as a viable hockey facility.
If you've never seen hockey at the mid and lower levels (ECHL, UHL, SPHL, CHL), you're in for a treat. There are very few prospects at this level, just dedicated hockey lifers (often making $500 a week, and playing three games in three nights in three different cities), who play with a passion for the game. Brenden Morrow played a bit in the CHL during the lockout and said that there is only a 10% difference in the skill level between NHLers and guys at that level. Obviously 10% is a lot, but the guys who play there are still skilled athletes and I have enormous admiration for them.
There is talk in Danbury, Connecticut of building a new arena with the hopes of attracting an ECHL team. Danbury isn't that far from NYC (or from Hartford): those of us in NYC's northern suburbs who are hockey fans sorely miss the UHL's Danbury Trashers (put out of business because the owner, the local garbage colletion boss, has been arrested). Yes the Danbury Ice Arena was small, but the fans unbelievably rabid (here's to you Section 102!), the games intense, and at $15 a ticket, a great bargain. Among the NHLers who played for the Trashers were: Mike Rupp, Stephen Peat, Jeff Daw, Ryan Barnes, Blake Bellefeiulle (curently in Charlotte), Brent Gretzky, Mario Larouque, and a few others I can't immediately recall.
A Danbury vs Brooklyn rivaly would be great!
It can't be called the East Coast Hockey League when it has many teams in California, and one in Alaska.
I have family in Charlotte who are NYR fans and would hate to see the Rangers move their team from there, but if the team ends up in Brooklyn, any true hockey fan would love the brand of hockey played there.
Rather than try and buy the Charlotte team and move it to Brooklyn, Dolan could simply buy one of the franchises that are not currently in operation (I'm pretty sure there are several in the ECHL). That way, Charlotte doesn't lose a popular team (they would just need to find someone else to affiliate with) and the league gets another team active.
1. To Newsday: the league hasn't been called the East Coast Hockey League for three years. They include this fact in all their press releases.
2. 2,300 is far smaller than buildings in the rest of the league. Unless the Rangers are simply planning to take a financial hit to do this, I wonder how it could be viable.
Sales of the jerseys would pay for an arena expansion within a year. I'd buy one the moment they went on sale (with Jessiman on the back of course).
Just to clarify -- affiliations in the ECHL are a far different creature than affiliations in the AHL. The Rangers may be affiliated with the Charlotte Checkers, but have no ownership stake in them (that I can recall) -- so there is no reason whatsoever to think that that would lead to the Checkers being the team targeted for a move. Also, ECHL teams are not required to have an NHL affiliation, unlike AHL teams -- so losing the Rangers' affiliation wouldn't put any kinks into the Checkers' off-ice business workings -- they'd just get another one, or go indy for a while.
There are a couple of dormant ECHL franchises, but most of those are ticketed for destinations already -- it would be just as likely that the Rangers might look at a struggling existing franchise for relocation to Brooklyn -- the Greensboro ECHL talk is already creating speculation as to which of the weakest sisters might be prime for relocation.
My personal speculation involves Pensacola, Augusta, or Cincinnati (all facing attendance problems from the minor to the massive), or even the Devils selling ECHL Trenton to the Rangers once they move their AHL franchise from Lowell to Trenton.
it would be great to see the 'Pack in Brooklyn. The question is, where? If they played in the new arena, the draw may not pay for the expenses for the day and the opportunity cost of, say, a concert could be large. I'd love to see it happen, but is it feasible in a large arena? The crowds would be decent-sized (I'm guessing more than currently), but not huge by any means.
Again, the AFFILIATION is different than the OWNERSHIP. The Devils are majority OWNERS of ECHL Trenton (after completing that transaction earlier this year) -- meaning they could decide to pack up and leave at pretty much any season, or sell controlling interest in the team to the Rangers. The AFFILIATION is just a contract to provide players (and sometimes not even a guarantee of that) to stock the team on ice -- it is not a contract that gives an NHL team any business interest in or rights to the ECHL franchise.
It's pretty obvious that AHL Lowell is headed to Trenton under Devils ownership -- the only questions are "next season or 2008", and "Where will the ECHL Trenton franchise go?".