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AJC: Thrashers fans coping with relocation six months later

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12-15-2011, 08:41 AM
  #51
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Originally Posted by DungeonK View Post
Not sure if this deserves its own thread, but I found it mind-blowing:

http://www.ajc.com/sports/ownership-...e-1259447.html



So they spent less than 5 months looking for a new owner and even then were unwilling to sell the Thrashers as part of a package or with ANY stake in the arena they operate at. What a crock of ****, hard to believe how crooked Atlanta Spirit is and that Gary Bettman let them get away with it because of the Coyotes losses.
You know, I look back on this, and just think how badly this situation was handled. When they bought the Hawks, Thrashers and operating rights to Philips Arena, ASG had to take the debt load for the arena, which was tied to both the Hawks and Thrashers franchises. So over the course of a couple of years, ASG was able to assign the debt load to the Hawks, which freed up the Thrashers as its own standalone business. That made the Thrashers portable.

So, surprisingly enough, when the calls went out in Feburary to find suckers an investor to buy only the Thrashers and forget about any rights to the arena, meaning ASG would have been the Thrashers' landlord...
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Originally Posted by DungeonK View Post
The Coyotes get OVER TWO YEARS of league-brokered help to find a new owner, including offering to practically pay a millionaire to take them, then instead of just sending them back to where they came from, where they belong, they ship off my team. The team my family was a season ticket holder for over 6 seasons, the team that I own 5 jerseys from, the team that I hoped to someday take my son to see and tell him about sitting in the same seat with my father when I was his age... gone in less than 5 months.
Of course. That is because the NHL bought the Coyotes. The NHL had free rein with the Jobing.com Arena as its sole tenant. It also helps that the NHL had True North Sports and Entertainment as a backstop for the next available relocated NHL franchise...

You do have to give ASG credit. They systematically destroyed the Thrashers' fan base. And since they hold all operating rights to Philips Arena and spent a couple of years maneuvering the debt loads servicing the Arena's bonds from both the Thrashers and Hawks to only the Hawks, ASG pretty much pulled a scorched-earth policy. ASG made it so no one could run an NHL team in Atlanta, as no one wanted to only purchase the team; they also needed operating rights to Philips.

I personally think the NHL wanted to get ASG out of the League. They had to have understood what was going on, and were somewhat powerless to stop it as they gave True North their Monopoly "I want Boardwalk" (read: I get a team at a later date) pass.


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12-15-2011, 08:59 AM
  #52
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If the league is powerless to do anything about a renegade ownership group that sets out to ruin it's product in a market the size of Atlanta, what good is it to have a Comish, BOG, and all the rest of the BS?

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12-15-2011, 09:06 AM
  #53
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If the league is powerless to do anything about a renegade ownership group that sets out to ruin it's product in a market the size of Atlanta, what good is it to have a Comish, BOG, and all the rest of the BS?
I think the point is being missed:

What is the point of fighting the ownership group when they have operating rights to the arena? The NHL might be able to do force the franchise owner's hand, but they wouldn't be able to do anything regarding the operation of the arena.

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12-15-2011, 09:09 AM
  #54
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Originally Posted by Bongo View Post
If the league is powerless to do anything about a renegade ownership group that sets out to ruin it's product in a market the size of Atlanta, what good is it to have a Comish, BOG, and all the rest of the BS?
That was my question, including also what Moyes did to the Coyotes in Phoenix. It's like they're powerless and just stand around while a fellow League member squashes the life out a franchise.

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12-15-2011, 09:16 AM
  #55
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The average season ticket to see a Winnipeg Jets game is priced roughly 125% above the average price of a season ticket to see the former Thrashers. This was required so that the team may garner enough revenue to stay competitive and stay in business over the long haul. If Atlanta fans eventually demonstrate they are willing to pay prices that are markedly above those they used to pay, and are willing to purchase season tickets similar in both numbers and time commitment to those bought in Winnipeg for example, then all here should be in favor of Atlanta getting a third NHL franchise IMO.

It is easy to blame ownership but this is a business forum and the fact of the matter is that the Thrashers were for sale because it was a failing business. It is of course a chicken and egg argument as to whether or not ownership was to blame, but the bottom line in business is always in fact... the bottom line.

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12-15-2011, 09:23 AM
  #56
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I understand the hate for ASG, but I do wonder whether it might be more about the business model in Atlanta and whether there is room for the NHL as a secondary tenant of the Philips arena. Consider this; if someone purchased the Coyotes and wanted to relocate them to Atlanta, would the current owners of the Hawks offer them a great lease arrangement and share arena revenues?
For all the well-deserved ASG hate in this thread, at this point if someone else were willing to buy a team, I think ASG would probably be willing to cut a "fair" lease arrangement and possibly even share arena revenues. When the Thrashers were sold, ASG had two potential buyers for the Hawks who both had no interest in having a hockey team in the same arena (that was actually part of the sales pitch). With the collapse of both deals, ASG as a group is now stuck with a team they no longer want to be responsible for running (it's important to remember that for the most part, the ASG partners remaining were supposed to just be supporting characters all along as Belkin was supposed to be the lead guy- that whole situation has really turned out to be a case of cutting off the nose to spite the face), an arena they don't want to be responsible for managing and a bunch of bills that need to be paid. As crazy as it may seem, they might now be more willing to work with an outside owner of a hockey team than they were when the Thrashers were for sale- the dynamic has changed a lot in the last 6 months and ASG might be willing to accept anything now that helps pay the bills.

Quote:
Would the current owners of the Hawks and the arena have any interest in purchasing another NHL franchise at a low purchase cost (say, $100 million)?
No, as mentioned above, the former Thrashers owners want out of the sports business altogether for the most part. The key would be finding someone else.

Quote:
If so, then I don't see why Atlanta shouldn't be part of the discussion about potential landing places for teams that might need to relocate (like Phoenix). If not, then perhaps it is a statement about the market just now, not just about the incompetence of ASG.
It's probably too soon for Atlanta to be realistically in the Phoenix discussion but down the line if things blow up somewhere like Columbus or Florida (not saying anything about those markets, just saying down the line those appear to be most likely relocation candidates if any ever crop up) and Atlanta can have a solution in place, I think the NHL would jump on it. I've said all along that the Winnipeg model is now the model that Atlanta should follow if we ever want a team back- we need to have a ownership group in place that is committed to hockey and willing to build from the ground up by probably running a minor league team and showing that they indeed know what they are doing. I don't think a billionaire who just wants a team is going to able to just throw down some money and get a team in Atlanta unless the NHL just has no other choice, there's going to have to be a show of commitment and an actual resume brought to the table to show the NHL that there is a great chance of success.

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12-15-2011, 09:25 AM
  #57
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Originally Posted by Gump Hasek View Post
The average season ticket to see a Winnipeg Jets game is priced roughly 125% above the average price of a season ticket to see the former Thrashers. This was required so that the team may garner enough revenue to stay competitive and stay in business over the long haul. If Atlanta fans eventually demonstrate they are willing to pay prices that are markedly above those they used to pay, and are willing to purchase season tickets similar in both numbers and time commitment to those bought in Winnipeg for example, then all here should be in favor of Atlanta getting a third NHL franchise IMO.

It is easy to blame ownership but this is a business forum and the fact of the matter is that the Thrashers were for sale because it was a failing business. It is of course a chicken and egg argument as to whether or not ownership was to blame, but the bottom line in business is always in fact... the bottom line.
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Easy to blame ownership? Holy **** are you serious? Do you even have any kind of idea what the ownership did, or do you just want to ignore the FACTS? Last I checked, ownership is what determines if a business succeeds or not.


Last edited by Fugu: 12-15-2011 at 09:46 AM. Reason: keep the personal shots out of it
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12-15-2011, 09:29 AM
  #58
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I'm still trying to understand the statements that Atlanta is such a huge TV market when year after year only 7500 people on average were tuning in locally?

Potential is great, but reality is, well, reality.

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12-15-2011, 09:32 AM
  #59
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Originally Posted by MoreOrr View Post
I wouldn't say that they need to go bankrupt, but they need to get tired of the sports scene and sell to new owners who then might just have an interest in hockey. That or the city needs to build another arena. In reality, neither option is something I'd expect for quite a long time.
#1 is actually the situation we have now, outside of one of the owners who has lifelong ties to the Hawks, the entire ownership group pretty much wants out of sports altogether (even Gearon doesn't want any actual ownership responsibility with the Hawks, he just wants to retain a minority stake in the team).

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12-15-2011, 09:36 AM
  #60
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Originally Posted by Chief Ten Bears View Post
I'm still trying to understand the statements that Atlanta is such a huge TV market when year after year only 7500 people on average were tuning in locally?

Potential is great, but reality is, well, reality.
I agree with this.

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12-15-2011, 09:46 AM
  #61
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Easy to blame ownership? Holy **** are you serious? Do you even have any kind of idea what the ownership did, or do you just want to ignore the FACTS? Last I checked, ownership is what determines if a business succeeds or not.
Look, I think we all realize that the Atlanta fans got screwed over by both the league and the owners. For sure. No one is doubting that.

However, you have to understand that it is difficult for a lot of people to understand this idea that 'bad ownership' is the reason fans don't show up to games. It's not so much something that came up with Atlanta, but 'bad ownership' has often been touted as a problem in the ongoing (it's seriously never going to die) Phoenix Coyotes debate, and I know I'm not the only one who had a hard time accepting that as an excuse.

We're on the "Business of Hockey" boards, right? People here are naturally more interested in what's going on behind the scenes with NHL teams than the average hockey fan. I'm sure there are plenty of fans, even in strong markets, who don't even know the name of their team's owner. So it's not reasonable to expect that the average person in a non-traditional market is not going to the games because they have knowledge of the ownership group.

Poor on-ice play? Sure, people aren't going to show up. General lack of interest in hockey? Same thing. But when your average family with an average interest in the team/sport is deciding to spend their entertainment dollars on something else, it's usually not because of some dissatisfaction with the owners.

...and frankly, Atlanta was pulling in pretty terrible attendance. If all of those people who weren't showing up (and considering Atlanta's huge population and terrible attendance and TV numbers, there were a lot of 'em) were doing so based on an educated opinion about ASG, I'd be very surprised.

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12-15-2011, 09:56 AM
  #62
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Originally Posted by Grudy0 View Post
You know, I look back on this, and just think how badly this situation was handled. When they bought the Hawks, Thrashers and operating rights to Philips Arena, ASG had to take the debt load for the arena, which was tied to both the Hawks and Thrashers franchises. So over the course of a couple of years, ASG was able to assign the debt load to the Hawks, which freed up the Thrashers as its own standalone business. That made the Thrashers portable.

So, surprisingly enough, when the calls went out in Feburary to find suckers an investor to buy only the Thrashers and forget about any rights to the arena, meaning ASG would have been the Thrashers' landlord...Of course. That is because the NHL bought the Coyotes. The NHL had free rein with the Jobing.com Arena as its sole tenant. It also helps that the NHL had True North Sports and Entertainment as a backstop for the next available relocated NHL franchise...

You do have to give ASG credit. They systematically destroyed the Thrashers' fan base. And since they hold all operating rights to Philips Arena and spent a couple of years maneuvering the debt loads servicing the Arena's bonds from both the Thrashers and Hawks to only the Hawks, ASG pretty much pulled a scorched-earth policy. ASG made it so no one could run an NHL team in Atlanta, as no one wanted to only purchase the team; they also needed operating rights to Philips.

I personally think the NHL wanted to get ASG out of the League. They had to have understood what was going on, and were somewhat powerless to stop it as they gave True North their Monopoly "I want Boardwalk" (read: I get a team at a later date) pass.
There was an unexpectedly pointed shot at ASG that Bettman made, about the ownership dispute and that it needed to be resolved so the franchise wasn't paralyzed in perpetuity. I think the league execs knew the Thrashers weren't really wanted, but Bettman's hands were tied as far as helping find a new owner due to the legal dispute mainly, and arena issue secondly.

Keep in mind that ASG said they couldn't find a buyer that could afford to take both teams. I actually believe that to be true. The Thrashers, arena rights, and NBA team together would cost somewhere in the realm of $400 MM (absolute basement price) to over $500 MM. Capital for sports entertainment isn't easy to find these days, and finding ownership that was equally interested in a hockey AND basketball team is even tougher.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bongo View Post
If the league is powerless to do anything about a renegade ownership group that sets out to ruin it's product in a market the size of Atlanta, what good is it to have a Comish, BOG, and all the rest of the BS?
ASG was like no other ownership group. Recall their five yr long dispute among themselves.

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Originally Posted by Telfo View Post
ASG had a deal to sell the Hawks/Arena to a guy and apparently that fell thru because the guy had no money basically.... like 80% of the purchase was supposed to be financed by ASG to begin with...LOL.

I cant wait til they are gone from this town for good. I just wish it had happened a few years earlier so the Thrashers could have been salvaged.
Like my point above, it may be fairly legitimate to claim that finding a buyer for the entire package wasn't feasible. Furthermore, without any revenue from the arena, the Thrashers would have been worse off even if the team had turned the on ice product and attendance and other HRR streams around.

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12-15-2011, 10:01 AM
  #63
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Originally Posted by Duke49 View Post
MOD
Easy to blame ownership? Holy **** are you serious? Do you even have any kind of idea what the ownership did, or do you just want to ignore the FACTS? Last I checked, ownership is what determines if a business succeeds or not.
So, are you going address anything that I actually said?

The facts are that the Thrashers were a failing business which is why they were for sale. Plenty of businesses succeed despite poor ownership, because the public buys what they are selling in numbers and at prices that allow the business to continue. This was not the case for the Thrashers. The business failed to finance itself, ownership notwithstanding.

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12-15-2011, 10:01 AM
  #64
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MOD
Easy to blame ownership? Holy **** are you serious? Do you even have any kind of idea what the ownership did, or do you just want to ignore the FACTS? Last I checked, ownership is what determines if a business succeeds or not.
I'm not sure if this is completely true either. You may have owners who have tried everything, have put together a good product and tried to do all the right things, but who still struggle. The Hurricanes aren't exactly making money hand over fist, and they're a recent Cup winner. Moreover the Canadian teams that were relocated in the 90's had arena and exchange rate issues more than ownership issues.

This forum is here to discern between and amongst the various factors that could have contributed. In most cases, people really want to delve into the details more than to take a shot at a fan base (or you personally ).

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12-15-2011, 10:02 AM
  #65
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So, are you going address anything that I actually said?

The facts are that the Thrashers were a failing business which is why they were for sale. Plenty of businesses succeed despite poor ownership, because the public buys what they are selling in numbers and at prices that allow the business to continue. This was not the case for the Thrashers.
Toronto Maple Leafs and NY Rangers?

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12-15-2011, 10:10 AM
  #66
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Fidel: When Dollar Bill Wirtz was running the Hawks on the cheap, people stayed away in droves. It wasn't until the fans sensed a commitment to winning before they were willing to come back to a Blackhawks game. I only wish we had the tradition here in the US that exist in Canada for hockey but we don't. As a result, once the novelty wears off for new fans, ownership has to show a willingness to improve it's team and be successful. When that didn't happen in Atlanta, they lost the casual or curious fan. What's hard to understand about that.

I was a partial season ticket holder the first 4 seasons in spite of the fact that I had a media pass and could go to the games for free. I remained a full season ticket holder up until the end even after I figured out what was up. I did so because of my love for the sport. Today I feel more like a chump than a fan thanks to those clowns in suits and their enabler Gary Bettman.

I've been a hard core, serious hockey fan for over 35 years. Those days are gone. I'll still watch and enjoy the game but if another team shows up here they won't get a dime of my money.

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12-15-2011, 10:12 AM
  #67
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So the first order of business in order to get a team back is ASG has to go bankrupt. Hmmm this may take a while.
I don't think anyone expects that a team will be coming back to Atlanta in the immediate future. There's plenty of time for ASG to bumble their way into non-existence.

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12-15-2011, 10:29 AM
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Fidel: When Dollar Bill Wirtz was running the Hawks on the cheap, people stayed away in droves. It wasn't until the fans sensed a commitment to winning before they were willing to come back to a Blackhawks game. I only wish we had the tradition here in the US that exist in Canada for hockey but we don't. As a result, once the novelty wears off for new fans, ownership has to show a willingness to improve it's team and be successful. When that didn't happen in Atlanta, they lost the casual or curious fan. What's hard to understand about that.
Surely you aren't comparing a situation involving a storied, original six franchise, the Chicago Black Hawks, to that of the Atlanta Thrashers...

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12-15-2011, 10:32 AM
  #69
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Fidel: When Dollar Bill Wirtz was running the Hawks on the cheap, people stayed away in droves. It wasn't until the fans sensed a commitment to winning before they were willing to come back to a Blackhawks game. I only wish we had the tradition here in the US that exist in Canada for hockey but we don't. As a result, once the novelty wears off for new fans, ownership has to show a willingness to improve it's team and be successful. When that didn't happen in Atlanta, they lost the casual or curious fan. What's hard to understand about that.

I was a partial season ticket holder the first 4 seasons in spite of the fact that I had a media pass and could go to the games for free. I remained a full season ticket holder up until the end even after I figured out what was up. I did so because of my love for the sport. Today I feel more like a chump than a fan thanks to those clowns in suits and their enabler Gary Bettman.

I've been a hard core, serious hockey fan for over 35 years. Those days are gone. I'll still watch and enjoy the game but if another team shows up here they won't get a dime of my money.
Basically, the new team would have to earn your trust first and their commitment to winning? I completely understand that. I know a lot of the older and long time hockey fans have been drug through the mud way too much to welcome a new team with open arms. I know I would welcome a team here, but going through the Thrashers move, I think I'll be able to tell the difference between someone actually committed and someone who just doesn't care. We'll see though. I can't imagine the Atlanta area being anything like what it is now in 10 or more years.

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I'm not sure if this is completely true either. You may have owners who have tried everything, have put together a good product and tried to do all the right things, but who still struggle. The Hurricanes aren't exactly making money hand over fist, and they're a recent Cup winner. Moreover the Canadian teams that were relocated in the 90's had arena and exchange rate issues more than ownership issues.

This forum is here to discern between and amongst the various factors that could have contributed. In most cases, people really want to delve into the details more than to take a shot at a fan base (or you personally ).
No I probably exaggerated a bit there. I mean, an owner does have to do his due diligence to ensure his product succeeds. After that, it's out of his/her hands. Of course, A$G NEVER did that despite the possibilities a hockey team in Atlanta could do.

I think so. It seems like a lot of Winnipeg fans have changed their "tone" somewhat, which is actually making it possible to discuss these things as opposed to a few months ago. I personally think it's great what's happening in Winnipeg and hope that the death of the Thrashers isn't in vain(certainly doesn't look like it so far). More and more people are realizing what actually happened with the Thrashers and are able to actually discuss it.


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12-15-2011, 10:38 AM
  #70
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Keep in mind that ASG said they couldn't find a buyer that could afford to take both teams. I actually believe that to be true. The Thrashers, arena rights, and NBA team together would cost somewhere in the realm of $400 MM (absolute basement price) to over $500 MM. Capital for sports entertainment isn't easy to find these days, and finding ownership that was equally interested in a hockey AND basketball team is even tougher.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gump Hasek View Post
The facts are that the Thrashers were a failing business which is why they were for sale. Plenty of businesses succeed despite poor ownership, because the public buys what they are selling in numbers and at prices that allow the business to continue. This was not the case for the Thrashers. The business failed to finance itself, ownership notwithstanding.
I bring these up because we now have the benefit of history as this happened a little while ago.

ASG couldn't find a buyer that could afford to take both teams? The lawsuit that tangled up ASG was finally settled in December 2010. Six months later, the hockey team was sold. There seemed to be a sense of urgency by ASG to get rid of the NHL in Atlanta. If ASG were remotely serious to keep everything intact, they'd have a better timeline than six months from the time they were allowed to sell the franchise(s) to when they actually did sell. Yes, there were people interested in all of ASG's properties, such as Anson Carter's group. Meanwhile, over the past few years ASG managed to complete the unwind of the Thrashers as backing collateral of Philips Arena's bonds and separated the Thrashers from the other businesses.

It seems to me that ASG was not going to sell all three units together. ASG entered into a period of exclusivity agreement with Moores (the San Diego Padres former owner) and later an attempted purchase by Meruelo all within the course of this past year. It's looking like a fire sale.

Meanwhile, a new complaint is that the franchise failed because it wasn't selling tickets. The Thrashers averaged somwhere just north of 13K attendance the past two seasons. Contrast:

Islanders 05-06, 06-07 - just under 13K
Blackhawks 05-06, 06-07 - just over 13K
Capitals 05-06, 06-07 - just under 14K
Thrashers 05-06, 06-07 - just under 16K

We all know about the Islanders. We know once Dollar Bill Wirtz passed, that the fans came and supported Rocky Wirtz. We know that Alex Ovechkin caused Washington to have a streak of sellouts as of the past three years. And the Thrashers languished under the ownership that ticked off their season ticket base and started to cut every corner available.

I'm sure the League would like every team to have the blind devotion Leafs fans have had for the past couple of decades. In Toronto, Leafs and NHL hockey is number one, which means the Leafs will sell out and generate loads of revenue if the product is crap. In most of the US, the number one sports is NFL football, and hockey is on a third or fourth tier, so you not only have to try, but succeed in putting a good product on ice and putting your best foot forward with your fans.

And since ASG didn't have the gonads to sell their interest in all of their Atlanta-area holdings, but instead act like they were a corporate raider selling parts of their companies, I can't really blame the fans. They'd been through enough with this three-ring circus.

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12-15-2011, 10:38 AM
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Why would anyone other than diehards care to watch two cellar-dwellars from foreign markets on a regional broadcast?
Carolina is a foreign market?

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12-15-2011, 10:41 AM
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I bring these up because we now have the benefit of history as this happened a little while ago.

ASG couldn't find a buyer that could afford to take both teams? The lawsuit that tangled up ASG was finally settled in December 2010. Six months later, the hockey team was sold. There seemed to be a sense of urgency by ASG to get rid of the NHL in Atlanta. If ASG were remotely serious to keep everything intact, they'd have a better timeline than six months from the time they were allowed to sell the franchise(s) to when they actually did sell. Yes, there were people interested in all of ASG's properties, such as Anson Carter's group. Meanwhile, over the past few years ASG managed to complete the unwind of the Thrashers as backing collateral of Philips Arena's bonds and separated the Thrashers from the other businesses.
True North group was in contact with ASG about the Thrashers well over a year before they bought the team.

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12-15-2011, 10:44 AM
  #73
BigTuna49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saskganesh View Post
Carolina is a foreign market?
I see what you did there. Seriously though, you probably have no idea how "foreign" Winnipeg really is to Atlanta. It really is like a whole different world to people that are from here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Ten Bears View Post
True North group was in contact with ASG about the Thrashers well over a year before they bought the team.
Didn't TNSE state this at some point after the move? That A$G contacted them? I know A$G would never admit to it and I'm sure the NHL would just like to ignore it whether A$G was really allowed to or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grudy0 View Post
Meanwhile, a new complaint is that the franchise failed because it wasn't selling tickets. The Thrashers averaged somwhere just north of 13K attendance the past two seasons. Contrast:

Islanders 05-06, 06-07 - just under 13K
Blackhawks 05-06, 06-07 - just over 13K
Capitals 05-06, 06-07 - just under 14K
Thrashers 05-06, 06-07 - just under 16K

We all know about the Islanders. We know once Dollar Bill Wirtz passed, that the fans came and supported Rocky Wirtz. We know that Alex Ovechkin caused Washington to have a streak of sellouts as of the past three years. And the Thrashers languished under the ownership that ticked off their season ticket base and started to cut every corner available.
This is something that almost ALWAYS gets overlooked with Atlanta, but our attendance was never as bad as some teams before they have a couple of draft picks completely turn things around. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly certain that Chicago, Washington, and Pittsburgh all had worse attendance numbers at some point in recent years that the Thrashers never reached despite years of failure. I know people are going to bring up the cost of tickets and whatnot but if you do that, you should acknowledge the ticket prices of these teams at those times as well.


Last edited by BigTuna49: 12-15-2011 at 10:50 AM.
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12-15-2011, 10:46 AM
  #74
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Originally Posted by Chief Ten Bears View Post
Surely you aren't comparing a situation involving a storied, original six franchise, the Chicago Black Hawks, to that of the Atlanta Thrashers...
People revolt under bad ownership. Very similar.

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12-15-2011, 10:49 AM
  #75
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Chief said, "Surely you aren't comparing a situation involving a storied, original six franchise, the Chicago Black Hawks, to that of the Atlanta Thrashers..."

I was comparing the attendance numbers. And don't call me Shirley.

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