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Omaha as a future destination

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03-29-2012, 08:42 AM
  #1
Ismellofhockey
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Omaha as a future destination

All the talk about relocation made me wonder where else the NHL could turn to in the future, and I somehow thought of Omaha.

Omaha is small. The city itself is 430,000 strong, but the metro area is about 880,000. The entire state of Nebraska has 1.8 million people.

However, it does have a few things going for it.

1, it has a strong corporate community.
2, it has its fair share of millionaires.
3, its population is growing relatively fast.
4, the NHL would be the only major league sport in town.
5, it has a history of supporting hockey (USHL)
6, it is not in the Eastern time zone.
7, it would have a natural rivalry (I think) with Denver, Minneapolis and potentially Kansas.


So how much would it have to grow before the NHL would consider it?

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03-29-2012, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ismellofhockey View Post
So how much would it have to grow before the NHL would consider it?
At least past a million inhabitants.

I don't see why the NHL would be interested in moving or expanding to another small American market when there are much larger markets like Houston and Seattle left without a team.

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03-29-2012, 09:09 AM
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At least past a million inhabitants.

I don't see why the NHL would be interested in moving or expanding to another small American market when there are much larger markets like Houston and Seattle left without a team.
Remember that you can't confuse "inhabitants" with "hockey fans". Omaha strikes me as the sort of place where hockey cold sell itself. While I'm not denying that Houston and Seattle have some appetite for hockey (I can't comment on how big that appetite is), they seem to be places where the fanbase would need some cultivating.

There's also the issue of ownership - Les Alexander doesn't seem to want hockey anymore, and I don't think anyone else in Houston has stepped up. In Seattle, hockey just seems to be along for the ride in the quest to justify an arena for a new NBA franchise. Obviously nobody in Omaha is presently clamouring for a team either right now, but if someone came forward, it would be smarter to pick up the phone for the guy from Omaha, rather than keeping the line open just in case the guy from Houston/Seattle tries to call.

If there is anyone in Omaha that's looking to bring the NHL to town, I'm sure they're watching the Winnipeg situation closely. If the Jets stay sucessful beyond the five years of ticket packages that sold faster than it took for me to write this sentence, I think that could really open the door to markets that were once thought to be "too small".

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03-29-2012, 09:33 AM
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I think you overestimate the level of interest in hockey there. It's there with some people but it's not anywhere near Canadian levels either.

I think IF Omaha had 2 million people it would be a fine NHL market but I don't think a sub-million people market has any chance outside Canada.

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03-29-2012, 10:44 AM
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Omaha, while a growing city with a nice corporate base, is not big enough to support an NHL team and probably wouldn't be until it doubles in size. The most similar NHL city would probably be Columbus, which like Omaha is a growing city with a large corporate base, but Columbus has a metro population of over 1.8 million, which is still small by NHL standards. A big difference between Columbus and Omaha besides size is that Columbus is very close to Detroit, Pittsburgh, and also an easy drive to Buffalo and Chicago, which has helped Columbus from an attendance perspective since the team has sucked so bad and has chased off fans the last couple years.

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03-29-2012, 10:57 AM
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Tommy Hawk
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Omaha could not even support minor league hockey or lower. Too many other places that appear more lucrative. Also, Omaha is so University of Nebraska entrenched, any sport team not related to them would have extreme difficulty succeeding.

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03-29-2012, 11:09 AM
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while I dont' think Omaha could work right now, it's interesting that while Seattle and QC are trying to get arenas built, Omaha's got one. and Bryzgalov would go there because it does have a truly amazing zoo.

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03-29-2012, 11:19 AM
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How does UNO's hockey team do for attendance?

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03-29-2012, 11:28 AM
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I lived in Omaha for a few years & I still travel out there regularly for family reasons. Here's the deal: Omaha does love hockey, but at a lower level. The Lancers always did well, but then they had an AHL team come in, UNO got started & suddenly you had too many teams with not enough population base to support. The Knights (AHL) were moved to Abbortsford & now you still have UNO & the Lancers. From my understanding they are both doing well. That being said, Omaha is a big Cornhusker town. That team is to them what the Steelers are to Pittsburgh. An NHL team coming in there would face similar obstacles to what Columbus faces with Ohio State. The corporate presence is strong with Offutt AFB in the area, so that wouldn't be too much an issue. However, the population is too small to actively support an NHL franchise. Yes, KC is three hours away, but most Omahans go to KC as a destination, not the other way around. Based on those factors & the fact that it doesn't add anything to the league market wise, it would be a poor destination for an NHL team.

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03-29-2012, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy Hawk View Post
Omaha could not even support minor league hockey or lower. Too many other places that appear more lucrative. Also, Omaha is so University of Nebraska entrenched, any sport team not related to them would have extreme difficulty succeeding.
that isn't true. The Lancers always had strong support. The problem is they overloaded the market with an AHL team.

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03-29-2012, 12:08 PM
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i think Kansas City is more likely a destination right now than omaha. Much larger than omaha and has a brand new nhl style arena.

Assuming nhl wants another team in the midwest.

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03-29-2012, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ismellofhockey View Post
All the talk about relocation made me wonder where else the NHL could turn to in the future, and I somehow thought of Omaha.
Everytime someone makes a suggestion like this, I turn around and offer up the option of Tulsa, which I think is even a better, generally unconsidered, option than Omaha is. Omaha is also relatively close to Kansas City, and in that regard KC would also be a better option.

Not that Omaha couldn't eventually be an option; it's just that I think Tulsa and KC are better options.

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03-29-2012, 12:30 PM
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Ismellofhockey
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Yeah the idea wasn't about Omaha over Houston or Kansas City... etc. But simply about when could the NHL possibly start to consider it for relocation. I think you've given pretty good answers so far on that, too. Thanks.

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03-29-2012, 12:57 PM
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Anyone know what the UNO Mavericks draw in attendance?

It's hard to imagine someone making a case for Omaha without talking about their D1 College hockey team.

Edit: Seems to be 5,000-7,000 per Wikipedia.

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03-29-2012, 02:15 PM
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It'll probably never happen, and it definitely won't happen if Kansas City ever gets a team again.

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03-30-2012, 05:08 AM
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throatguzzler
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Is there even a single Nebraskan on this site that can vouch for the popularity of hockey in Omaha? There are dozens of better cities to consider before Omaha, in both the US and Canada.

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03-31-2012, 09:36 PM
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It could definitely work as a one-horse town. There's no NFL, NBA, or MLB there, and likely never will be.


It seems large enough, has somewhat of a metro area on the Iowa side of Council Bluffs, although it's not that big.

Really, a one big league team market could work well.

I've driven through it a few times, and stayed in a hotel during the evening, but that's all.

Interesting idea though. I think the NHL could look at the empty major league cities, and see what they could do there.

Although, from what I'm aware, Nebraska/Omaha is also a big college sports town, much like Columbus (which was mentioned earlier)

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03-31-2012, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by go_leafs_go02 View Post
It could definitely work as a one-horse town. There's no NFL, NBA, or MLB there, and likely never will be.


It seems large enough, has somewhat of a metro area on the Iowa side of Council Bluffs, although it's not that big.

Really, a one big league team market could work well.

I've driven through it a few times, and stayed in a hotel during the evening, but that's all.

Interesting idea though. I think the NHL could look at the empty major league cities, and see what they could do there.

Although, from what I'm aware, Nebraska/Omaha is also a big college sports town, much like Columbus (which was mentioned earlier)
Council Bluffs isn't much. And beyond that, there is nothing until Des Moines. Omaha is just too small....plus, if the other leagues won't consider it, why would the NHL?

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04-01-2012, 01:26 AM
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It wouldn't be the smallest metro or the smallest arena in the NHL. It has a stable economy with a decent corporate presence and no professional competition.

Yes, Huskers football is huge. But it's also down the road and over by December. I think Columbus has a much bigger beast on its hands with OSU football, basketball, and a hockey program that's more established than UNO. Not to mention Raleigh and the level of college basketball in that state.

That doesn't make Omaha the ideal market for the NHL, but I'm sure that the NHL would "consider" it IF a rockstar ownership group emerged committed to the area. The likelihood of that happening? Unlikely.

I agree with the Tulsa comment. I think that's the true black horse market that could come out of nowhere and surprise some people in the next ten years.

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04-01-2012, 05:22 AM
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In ten years time I don't doubt it could be a possibility.

The Florida Panthers recent success is very intriguing but if they go back down the toilet, them and the BlueJackets could be on the move so Omaham wouldn't be the worst place to give it a try.

Like has been said, no competition right?

I mean, even if you're working with 50% less people than on average, you're also looking at probably 70% less competition.

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04-01-2012, 10:24 AM
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Are we just picking random larger American cities to throw NHL teams in to "grow the game" again

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04-01-2012, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by throatguzzler View Post
Is there even a single Nebraskan on this site that can vouch for the popularity of hockey in Omaha? There are dozens of better cities to consider before Omaha, in both the US and Canada.

as stated--there are a dozen better cities before this one is considered


is there an ahl or echl team there?

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04-01-2012, 11:21 AM
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Andre Poodle Lussier
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as stated--there are a dozen better cities before this one is considered


is there an ahl or echl team there?
Nope...and the one AHL team that went there didn't last long.

Omaha has been around the horn in the minors though -- mostly in the old Central League back in the 60's and 70's.

http://www.hockeydb.com/stte/omaha-knights-7268.html

They also have a junior team in the USHL that draws ok.

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/d...s.php?tmi=9692

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04-01-2012, 11:22 AM
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GKJ
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Well, not that it's the be-all/end-all, but the AHL didn't stick around.

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04-01-2012, 12:31 PM
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On the one hand I do think that the NHL is better servedto look at so-called "second teir" cities where the NHL would be the top team in town, rather than 3rd or 4th whencompeting with other major league sports.

But on the other handit better also be a city that has a solid history of supporting minor league hockey (like Winnipeg) or junior hockey (like Quebec City).

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