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The Business of Hockey Discuss the financial and business aspects of the NHL. Topics may include the CBA, work stoppages, broadcast contracts, franchise sales, NHL revenues, relocation and expansion.

Will hockey ever return to Houston?

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Old
05-26-2017, 11:11 PM
  #1
JDogindy
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Will hockey ever return to Houston?

As far as any level beyond rec leagues, obviously.

Considering Les Alexander kicked the Aeros out of the Toyota Center back in 2013 & the Sugar Land Imperials were sold & moved to College Station in 2016, the fourth largest city in the United States has no hockey.

Will any expansion or relocation be feasible in any term?

Frankly, my big issue is lack of venues. Toyota is out of the question & the Summit is now home to a televangelist. The Reliant Arena seems horribly out of date.

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05-27-2017, 12:05 AM
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In my opinion, it would be an excellent choice for a US western conf market (NHL). Will we see a team there soon...doubt it.

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05-27-2017, 01:11 AM
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In retrospect Houston's best shot came when the Cleveland Barons went belly up but the NHL elected to fold the Barons.

I have no doubt a team in Houston would thrive but there is no arena option. Alexander is not paying $500M to get the secret handshake like Foley did. Foley wanted a toy to play with in his golden years and for now the price is set.

Jacobs was quoted last fall that Houston is attractive but there is no arena.

Quote:
“I’d love to see us in the West, to be up in Seattle,” Jacobs said. “Seattle’s a natural. I’d love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building. There are conditions and circumstances in each one of these that we have to take into consideration.”

Read more at: http://nesn.com/2015/10/jeremy-jacob...ion-proposals/

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05-27-2017, 08:33 AM
  #4
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Houston Chronicle: Pros & Cons of A Houston NHL Franchise

Houston and Atlanta. Why hasn't the NHL been more active?

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Old
05-27-2017, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Fenway View Post
In retrospect Houston's best shot came when the Cleveland Barons went belly up but the NHL elected to fold the Barons.

I have no doubt a team in Houston would thrive but there is no arena option. Alexander is not paying $500M to get the secret handshake like Foley did. Foley wanted a toy to play with in his golden years and for now the price is set.

Jacobs was quoted last fall that Houston is attractive but there is no arena.
A team in Houston would thrive, and you summed up perfectly succinctly why it won't happen (unfortunately).

I was a child in the 70's, and even got to skate in between periods at Aeros games. My dad had season tickets, the whole works.

But I was too young to understand all the business shenanigans going on between the WHA and the NHL.

Reading about it all these years later, it is very infuriating. I believe the team would have done great, and the Whalers franchise has had a bit of a bumpy road.

I found this on Wikipedia:

Merger discussions resumed in 1978, and it again appeared that the Aeros, as one of the league's strongest teams, were an obvious candidate to join the NHL. Unfortunately for Houston, by this time Ziegler realized NHL owners would never vote to admit six teams and floated a proposal that would admit four WHA franchises.

The WHA responded by insisting that all three of its Canadian teams be included in the merger. This left room for only one American team, with the only serious contenders for that spot being the Aeros and Whalers.

Aeros owner Kenneth Schnitzer attempted to persuade Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs to support a merger that included the Aeros and not the Bruins' neighbors based in Hartford, only to find that Jacobs, as one of the older league's most hard-line owners, was opposed to any sort of merger with the WHA and that Ziegler was cool to the idea of adding another Sun Belt NHL team.

Of the three Sun Belt teams that had joined the league since 1967, one (the California Golden Seals) had already relocated and two (the Los Angeles Kings and Atlanta Flames) were struggling financially.

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05-27-2017, 02:51 PM
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Won't happen until Houston gets a new arena. Alexander has been cold toward the league seemingly since ownership rules were changed to keep him from buying and moving the oilers in the 90s.

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05-27-2017, 04:20 PM
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Ownership is the most important factor when determining where a team should go, and the Houston Arena is controlled by someone who seems to have little interest in the NHL. To be fair, I would too if the NHL insisted on 500 mill to sit at the table.

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05-27-2017, 04:25 PM
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If were looking at NHL hockey, it won't even have a chance at happening until Mr. Alexander sells or dies.

Even then, it's going to be an uphill battle unless the new owner wants to own an NHL team too. Otherwise, the next owner will have control of the only major indoor arena in the 5th largest metropolitan in the US.

With no other building in the area, there's no major competition for concerts and other non sporting events. So having an NHL team (which is a competitor) taking up 41+ dates with many of them being prime ones would make little sense for Mr. Alexander's sucessor. Owning an Arena League team would make more sense.

Another way is to have a suburban arena built in the area but there's no business case to build one just for an NHL team. Perhaps a smaller building where an AHL could play and can be a niche arena compared to downtown.

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05-27-2017, 04:30 PM
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More likely than a team going to Quebec. Bettman loves those small markets!

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05-27-2017, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Mightygoose View Post

Another way is to have a suburban arena built in the area but there's no business case to build one just for an NHL team. Perhaps a smaller building where an AHL could play and can be a niche arena compared to downtown.
This is just my impressions locally, not based on market research or surveys.

The collective mindset of Houstonians is that it is a 'big league city,' so minor league hockey will always be just that - a niche. This may just be semantics, marketing, or whatever; but the local support for the IHL Aeros (not technically a farm team) was greater than that of the Minnesota Wild-affiliated AHL Aeros.

There are suburbs that might go for something like that - Woodlands, Sugarland (which does have a minor league baseball team). But for Houston at large, generating interest in an arena for a minor league team would likely garner little to no interest.

The city's economy has diversified well beyond oil, so the corporate support is there. There are lots of northern transplants (myself included) that would come see their teams play, like in other Southern markets. It would ease travel on Western teams due to its close proximity to Dallas.

And the league would have an instant rivalry with Dallas, as Houston has a bit of an inferiority complex with Dallas. This town is on the laid back/fair-weathered side, but ever since the Astros were moved into the same Division as the Rangers, there's been lots of animosity and vitriol between the teams and fans.

Perfectly suited for hockey!

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05-27-2017, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeroforce View Post
This is just my impressions locally, not based on market research or surveys.

The collective mindset of Houstonians is that it is a 'big league city,' so minor league hockey will always be just that - a niche. This may just be semantics, marketing, or whatever; but the local support for the IHL Aeros (not technically a farm team) was greater than that of the Minnesota Wild-affiliated AHL Aeros.

There are suburbs that might go for something like that - Woodlands, Sugarland (which does have a minor league baseball team). But for Houston at large, generating interest in an arena for a minor league team would likely garner little to no interest.

The city's economy has diversified well beyond oil, so the corporate support is there. There are lots of northern transplants (myself included) that would come see their teams play, like in other Southern markets. It would ease travel on Western teams due to its close proximity to Dallas.

And the league would have an instant rivalry with Dallas, as Houston has a bit of an inferiority complex with Dallas. This town is on the laid back/fair-weathered side, but ever since the Astros were moved into the same Division as the Rangers, there's been lots of animosity and vitriol between the teams and fans.

Perfectly suited for hockey!
uh, San Antonio might have some issues with some of the above statements, there, Aeroforce, since is there really a rivalry between the Alexander owned Rockets, the Holt-owned Spurs (which, btw, has the Rampage among its properties), and the Cuban-owned Mavericks?

in fact, I'm not even sure there truly is one, with G-League teams (D-League until this past season), as Austin (Spurs) go head to head with the Dallas affiliated Texas Stars, in that market, add the Texas Legends (Mavericks) AND THE RGV Vipers, a perennial powerhouse, for Alexander and the Rockets.... Alexander not only dropped the Aeros out of Houston, he booted the Comets out after spinning them off, they no longer exist, after being a dominant franchise in the WNBA.

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05-28-2017, 01:45 AM
  #12
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Originally Posted by CHRDANHUTCH View Post
uh, San Antonio might have some issues with some of the above statements, there, Aeroforce, since is there really a rivalry between the Alexander owned Rockets, the Holt-owned Spurs (which, btw, has the Rampage among its properties), and the Cuban-owned Mavericks?

in fact, I'm not even sure there truly is one, with G-League teams (D-League until this past season), as Austin (Spurs) go head to head with the Dallas affiliated Texas Stars, in that market, add the Texas Legends (Mavericks) AND THE RGV Vipers, a perennial powerhouse, for Alexander and the Rockets.... Alexander not only dropped the Aeros out of Houston, he booted the Comets out after spinning them off, they no longer exist, after being a dominant franchise in the WNBA.
Oh you are correct - there isn't a lot of hostility between the cities in Texas. Football is king in Houston, though, and there is a lot of resentment (jealousy actually) toward the success in Dallas, and in different generations.

Believe me - there was REAL concern here the Cowboys were going to conclude their great season by winning a Super Bowl in Houston; and lots of celebration when the Packers eliminated them.

So I've been pleasantly surprised that the Rangers/Astros has gotten testy. I don't know that it would reach the level of say Penguins/Flyers, but I could see an NHL rivalry developing between Houston and Dallas.

As for the Comets, Houston is a bit of a bandwagon town (other than football). The Comets were winning and the games were affordable. Once the team fell back to the pack, interest waned.

Les Alexander never liked having the Aeros in Toyota Center. From what I heard, Aeros players had to use the lockers of the Rockets' Power Dancers.

I can't say anything bad about San Antonio - it's a great city. I see lots of Texans jerseys whenever I'm there and plenty of Spurs jerseys here.

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05-28-2017, 04:37 AM
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The NHL has been messing up expansion since 1990. I'm not going to state what teams I believe should have never been granted a franchise, but serious questions should be raised as to why the NHL has not put teams in Southern Ontario, Quebec City, Houston, or Seattle in the last 25 years, or even attempted to do so...

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05-28-2017, 05:07 AM
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The NHL has been messing up expansion since 1990. I'm not going to state what teams I believe should have never been granted a franchise, but serious questions should be raised as to why the NHL has not put teams in Southern Ontario, Quebec City, Houston, or Seattle in the last 25 years, or even attempted to do so...
Southern Ontario and Quebec City have the same problem - The Maple Leafs and Canadiens do not want to lose their monopoly.

Atlanta failed the second time because Time-Warner sold to the wrong people.

South Florida is a tough market because the demographics there do not favor hockey

Quote:
#11 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood, FL

Population 6 years and over : 3,968,900
Black: 819,700 (21%)
Hispanic: 2,020,900 (51%)

#47 West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL

Population: 1,243,000
Black: 216,300 (17%)
Hispanic: 248,300 (20%)
Arizona has been a struggle.

Raleigh needs the team to start winning to survive.

Tampa Bay, Nashville, San Jose and Columbus are doing OK. Anaheim has a loyal hard core base but otherwise ignored in SoCal.

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05-28-2017, 05:54 AM
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South Florida is a tough market because the demographics there do not favor hockey
.
The problem with the Panthers is where the arena is located. Teams that have arenas in far outlying suburbs struggle. Florida drew well with the team in Downtown Miami.

Phoenix drew well Downtown, but have struggled when their new arena opened way out in the boonies.

Even the Ottawa Senators don't sellout during the season, and the main reason being is the commute is so unfavorable to residents not in the West Ottawa area.

Minnesota North Stars moved, and one of the primary reasons they were not successful is they built the arena in Bloomington, far away from Downtown Minneapolis or St.Paul.

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05-28-2017, 07:33 AM
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The problem with the Panthers is where the arena is located. Teams that have arenas in far outlying suburbs struggle. Florida drew well with the team in Downtown Miami.

Phoenix drew well Downtown, but have struggled when their new arena opened way out in the boonies.

Even the Ottawa Senators don't sellout during the season, and the main reason being is the commute is so unfavorable to residents not in the West Ottawa area.

Minnesota North Stars moved, and one of the primary reasons they were not successful is they built the arena in Bloomington, far away from Downtown Minneapolis or St.Paul.
I am very sorry J4L, but you have some misinformation here....

Phoenix drew well downtown early, but that faded. Of all the things that could be said about the problems in Arizona, it is definitely NOT fair to say that "Not being downtown is the problem."

Minnesota North Stars? Bloomington is 10 miles from downtown Mpls. That's not 'far away' and the reasons the team moved had nothing to do with the arena location. Nothing.

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05-28-2017, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Jets4Life View Post
The problem with the Panthers is where the arena is located. Teams that have arenas in far outlying suburbs struggle. Florida drew well with the team in Downtown Miami.

Phoenix drew well Downtown, but have struggled when their new arena opened way out in the boonies.

Even the Ottawa Senators don't sellout during the season, and the main reason being is the commute is so unfavorable to residents not in the West Ottawa area.

Minnesota North Stars moved, and one of the primary reasons they were not successful is they built the arena in Bloomington, far away from Downtown Minneapolis or St.Paul.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MNNumbers View Post
I am very sorry J4L, but you have some misinformation here....

Phoenix drew well downtown early, but that faded. Of all the things that could be said about the problems in Arizona, it is definitely NOT fair to say that "Not being downtown is the problem."

Minnesota North Stars? Bloomington is 10 miles from downtown Mpls. That's not 'far away' and the reasons the team moved had nothing to do with the arena location. Nothing.
Actually its true. There would be no Arizona thread if the Coyotes had just worked out some deal for renovations at America West. They got the shiny new arena in the suburbs and what did it get them? Same with Florida. Ottawa will also be moving downtown very soon, close to the center of the population.

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05-28-2017, 08:35 AM
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Actually its true. There would be no Arizona thread if the Coyotes had just worked out some deal for renovations at America West. They got the shiny new arena in the suburbs and what did it get them? Same with Florida. Ottawa will also be moving downtown very soon, close to the center of the population.
Come on, MM. You know that the ownership issues have been far far more of a problem in Arizona than the location. Sure, a better situation of an arena would have helped, but the real problems there are:

1- The team was plopped in the market with no advance warning.
2- Although, according to some, the arena was in the right place, it was not the right arena, nor the right arena deal. AND THERE WERE NO NEGOTIATIONS AVAILABLE WITH PHOENIX OR THE SUNS.
3- The owners at that time didn't have enough $$ to be stable while they sought a better situation.
4- Everything else has depended on that.

Again, to say that the problems are a result of not being downtown misses so much there. If that were the main source of problems, then why was attendance better in the first years at GRA?

Mind you, I do agree with the general premise that a downtown location is better. What I disagree with is the idea that the location of the arena is the determining factor. That's why I posted. Neither Arizona's nor the North Stars' problems were or are primarily dependent on the location of their arenas.


Last edited by MNNumbers: 05-28-2017 at 09:41 AM.
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05-28-2017, 09:30 AM
  #19
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Again, to say that the problems are a result of not being downtown misses so much there. If that were the main source of problems, then why was attendance better in the first years at GRA?
Fans initially followed the team to Glendale but many in the eastern suburbs grew tired of the drive especially during the week.

Ottawa and Sunrise built new arenas where land was cheap - and it was cheap for a reason. The North Stars did not fail because of Bloomington but bad ownership. Nobody in the Twin Cities seems to have a problem getting to the Mall of America.

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05-28-2017, 09:45 AM
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Fans initially followed the team to Glendale but many in the eastern suburbs grew tired of the drive especially during the week.

Ottawa and Sunrise built new arenas where land was cheap - and it was cheap for a reason. The North Stars did not fail because of Bloomington but bad ownership. Nobody in the Twin Cities seems to have a problem getting to the Mall of America.
Thank you Fenway.

As for the Panthers, I think it's fair to say that the problems they have are a combination of factors.

1- Miami is a very fair-weather fan market. If you win, the fans support you. If you lose, they lose interest. There is not much way to change this, it simply is the way of life in the market (I think that's true in much of the south and west, too, but that's a generality).

2- Since the Heat already had the downtown arena under control, the Panthers needed something else.

3- No political will for an easy (means, government only) arena solution in Miami, so the team went looking in the suburbs. Sunrise was found, and Broward County has been willing to play along.

4- However, that is too far out IN THAT MARKET.

So the team is caught.

How that applies to Houston, I don't know.

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05-28-2017, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by MNNumbers View Post
Thank you Fenway.

As for the Panthers, I think it's fair to say that the problems they have are a combination of factors.

1- Miami is a very fair-weather fan market. If you win, the fans support you. If you lose, they lose interest. There is not much way to change this, it simply is the way of life in the market (I think that's true in much of the south and west, too, but that's a generality).

2- Since the Heat already had the downtown arena under control, the Panthers needed something else.

3- No political will for an easy (means, government only) arena solution in Miami, so the team went looking in the suburbs. Sunrise was found, and Broward County has been willing to play along.

4- However, that is too far out IN THAT MARKET.

So the team is caught.

How that applies to Houston, I don't know.
Good points.

It applies to Houston in that we would be in the same situation if a suburban hockey arena were built here. Fans here are also fair-weathered and its the Rockets in control of the downtown arena.

I can't see another downtown arena being built, especially for a sport not engrained in the local culture.

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05-28-2017, 12:32 PM
  #22
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Originally Posted by MNNumbers View Post
Thank you Fenway.

As for the Panthers, I think it's fair to say that the problems they have are a combination of factors.

1- Miami is a very fair-weather fan market. If you win, the fans support you. If you lose, they lose interest. There is not much way to change this, it simply is the way of life in the market (I think that's true in much of the south and west, too, but that's a generality).

2- Since the Heat already had the downtown arena under control, the Panthers needed something else.

3- No political will for an easy (means, government only) arena solution in Miami, so the team went looking in the suburbs. Sunrise was found, and Broward County has been willing to play along.

4- However, that is too far out IN THAT MARKET.

So the team is caught.

How that applies to Houston, I don't know.
The arena in Houston is perfect except public officials gave the keys to the Rockets. Alexander apparently felt he was used by the NHL when he wanted to buy Edmonton and relocate them and he probably is justified in feeling that way. He looked at the expansion application sent out by the NHL and threw it in the circular filing cabinet.

Arena location is so important in the overall equation. The Nassau Coliseum is a textbook study on how planners can overlook things until it is too late. A good friend of mine lives in Forest Hill, Queens which is only 18 miles from NMVC but he doesn't own a car and it takes nearly 90 minutes to get there by train and bus. Many in Queens don't own a car not because they can't afford one but don't want the aggravation. Even the Meadowlands was easier for him as there were express buses from the Port Authority in Manhattan. Today he is a Devils STH and it takes him a little under an hour to get to Newark.

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05-28-2017, 12:43 PM
  #23
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Good points.

It applies to Houston in that we would be in the same situation if a suburban hockey arena were built here. Fans here are also fair-weathered and its the Rockets in control of the downtown arena.

I can't see another downtown arena being built, especially for a sport not engrained in the local culture.
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The arena in Houston is perfect except public officials gave the keys to the Rockets. Alexander apparently felt he was used by the NHL when he wanted to buy Edmonton and relocate them and he probably is justified in feeling that way. He looked at the expansion application sent out by the NHL and threw it in the circular filing cabinet.

Arena location is so important in the overall equation. The Nassau Coliseum is a textbook study on how planners can overlook things until it is too late. A good friend of mine lives in Forest Hill, Queens which is only 18 miles from NMVC but he doesn't own a car and it takes nearly 90 minutes to get there by train and bus. Many in Queens don't own a car not because they can't afford one but don't want the aggravation. Even the Meadowlands was easier for him as there were express buses from the Port Authority in Manhattan. Today he is a Devils STH and it takes him a little under an hour to get to Newark.
Thanks fellows,

I do have a question, though. The last time a thread like this was started, it was suggested that a new arena could be built in Woodlands, and apparently that is a wealthy suburb. Is that right?

If so, why would someone have suggested that? Does it have to do with market demographics?

Also, I continue to be lost as to one simple equation:

Arena with NBA but not NHL: Naming Rights are high (Rockets, in the case of Houston). Arena is available every other night of the year for renting by its controlling agent.

Arena with NBA and NHL (same ownership): Naming Rights do not rise, so there is no benefit there. Suite sales don't rise. Only thing that changes is that the owner has to make enough money through the hockey side alone to balance out the lost rentals because 41 more nights are booked.

That seems like a loser to me. I think if I had control of an arena, the best situation is ONE anchor tenant.

Adding a 2nd anchor either shorts the 2nd anchor's owner (if it's a different owner), or it shorts the arena manager (assumed to be the first owner). And, I say that because there are very few NHL teams which are in the black without arena revenue.

Thoughts?

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05-28-2017, 01:01 PM
  #24
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Also, I continue to be lost as to one simple equation:

Arena with NBA but not NHL: Naming Rights are high (Rockets, in the case of Houston). Arena is available every other night of the year for renting by its controlling agent.

Arena with NBA and NHL (same ownership): Naming Rights do not rise, so there is no benefit there. Suite sales don't rise. Only thing that changes is that the owner has to make enough money through the hockey side alone to balance out the lost rentals because 41 more nights are booked.

That seems like a loser to me. I think if I had control of an arena, the best situation is ONE anchor tenant.

Adding a 2nd anchor either shorts the 2nd anchor's owner (if it's a different owner), or it shorts the arena manager (assumed to be the first owner). And, I say that because there are very few NHL teams which are in the black without arena revenue.

Thoughts?
In Boston the Bruins control TD Garden and the Celtics are the tenant. The Celtics PAY NO RENT and only get the ticket revenue from the non club seats ( Jacobs gets the money for the club seats and boxes) and the Bruins get the concession money.

The Celtics do have control of in house advertising for their games and according to Forbes they are doing quite well - ranked 5th in value.

https://www.forbes.com/teams/boston-celtics/

Of course the Celtics get a nice check from the NBA for national TV rights but they are content. Jacobs in return knows the Celtics won't build their own arena.

The reality is if Les Alexander with control of the arena doesn't want to pay $500 M the chances of finding another owner for hockey in Houston is next to nil.


Last edited by Fenway: 05-28-2017 at 01:52 PM.
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05-28-2017, 01:08 PM
  #25
jhaf1210
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Would Austin make a better landing spot for an expansion team? Not very familiar with the area but just from looking at a map and existing sports franchises, seems like Austin would be ideal. Fairly close to both San Antonio and Houston, has a fun downtown area, and fast growing market with no pro sports franchises to compete with.

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