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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
05-28-2017, 01:20 PM
  #26
Hoek
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MLS has supposedly been sniffing around Austin a bit (not sure how likely it is with Houston already in and San Antonio making a bid). NHL would be an interesting play there. Don't know what their appetite is for building an arena though.

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05-28-2017, 01:38 PM
  #27
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Originally Posted by Fenway View Post
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.
Thank you Fenway. I assume the arrangement with the Knicks/Rangers may be similar.

However, I think that major league sports in the NE corridor work differently than anywhere else.

I can't imagine the Timberwolves or the Wild surviving on the kind of arrangement you describe. So, I believe that to be an exceptional case. Perhaps it could be said that Jacobs allows that situation because of 2 things.... One, he gets the concession money from the Celtics games. Two, if he played hardball with the Celtics the market would turn on him.

Houston? No Way. $500M for a team to start with, and you have to build your fanbase from scratch, and there is not very much revenue sharing because there is not much national media money. And, if you are smart, you look ahead and see that getting worse rather than better. No. Way. And, no way is anyone with revenue control in Houston going to want to play nice. Why should they?


Last edited by Fenway; 05-28-2017 at 01:54 PM..
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Old
05-28-2017, 01:51 PM
  #28
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Southern Ontario and Quebec City have the same problem - The Maple Leafs and Canadiens do not want to lose their monopoly.
Montreal cannot do much about Quebec City, as it's outside the radius of compensation.

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05-28-2017, 02:01 PM
  #29
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Originally Posted by MNNumbers View Post
Thank you Fenway. I assume the arrangement with the Knicks/Rangers may be similar.
Rangers and Knicks are both owned by Madison Sq Garden

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Montreal cannot do much about Quebec City, as it's outside the radius of compensation.
Montreal can lobby other owners in the US to block Quebec City. Montreal currently enjoys a francophone monopoly that is even tighter than what the Leafs enjoy.

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05-28-2017, 02:22 PM
  #30
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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.
You know, Austin in theory is actually not a bad idea.

It would be similar to Carolina, Columbus, and San Jose in being the only big-4 in its market, and yes I'm aware SJ is part of the Bay Area and has MLS along with Columbus.

Like Raleigh/SJ/Columbus, it's a highly-educated area that is often ranked high on those click-bait articles like "best place to work, live, raise a family, etc."

Like Raleigh and Columbus, huge collegiate support with the UT Longhorns but enough room for other teams to draw fans. Is also a state capital.

The big question though, would Austinites get behind the idea of a major-league team? The city kind of seems "too cool" for lack of a better term for that, and with Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio nearby if folks needed to get their fix, they can just drive to those towns. Plus, Austin is more of a tourist town than Raleigh, San Jose, and Columbus. It's a big music town and has yearly festivals devoted to the scene. I'm just not sure if the city and it's residents are 100% interested in being a major-league sports town and would rather have the Longhorns run the town.

I'm sure the NHL has given thought to Austin once or twice but I would imagine they would want Houston well before Austin.

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05-28-2017, 03:17 PM
  #31
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Both Houston and Atlanta should have a team simply based on the size of those markets. Nashville has demonstrated that a southern market can be a success. I do think that the best chance for teams in Houston and Atlanta would be through relocation as I cannot see anyone (or group) wanting to pay a $ 500 million expansion fee. I'm not sure why Las Vegas paid that much as I'm not sure they'll ever make a return on their investment. I'm not saying that Vegas is not a good market and I am happy for the fans there to have a team, I just think the expansion fee being charged is an outrageous amount. For a league that already has teams in most of the largest markets in the U.S., it seems the expansion fee being charged could only work in New York or Chicago if they didn't already have teams.

In regards to Houston and Atlanta, there is great potential for both markets but it's doubtful either one would get a team through expansion due to the exorbitant price. Right up front I'm going to state that I believe Les Alexander would be open to the NHL if it made sense to him financially. I know that others have written him off and say it will never happen. The same thing was said about Winnipeg before the NHL came back. Les Alexander had been interested in the NHL before, therefore, there's a possibility he could be again as long as it was in his best interests financially. If he was offered the Coyotes for the right amount to bring them to Houston, I think the NHL would be a success there. As others have pointed out, they would have a built in rivalry with Dallas. The fans in Atlanta were never the problem for a team there but rather bad ownership. Give them a competent and committed ownership group and I'm sure it would be a success like Nashville is. I know some have said that fans there wouldn't want another team based on what happened previously but I think that is selling them short. I believe they know it wasn't their fault and would look forward to having a team with good ownership. They could even have the Thrashers history back if they want it since that is where it occurred. I think Atlanta's best opportunity through relocation would be the Hurricanes if things are not successful in Carolina. In both situations the NHL could maintain a presence in the south even after relocation.

Having said all that, I'm not saying I want Arizona and Carolina to lose their teams. I want both to remain where they are and be successful. It's only if it's decided as a last resort that either or both cannot continue to make a go of it in their current markets, I would then like to see Houston and Atlanta get a chance to bring them to their respective cities.


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05-28-2017, 05:58 PM
  #32
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Originally Posted by MNNumbers View Post
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?
The Woodlands is about 32 miles north of downtown Houston, and yes, it is mostly affluent. Our 'shed' for concerts is there (Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion).

It's a trek getting there, traffic and parking are problematic, and being outside during the summer concert season here is a deal-breaker for me.

But that's only me; shows draw really well there. That, along with affluence, is probably why the Woodlands were suggested as a possible destination for a hockey rink.

I disagree, though. Its easier to get people to make that journey once or twice a year to see their favorite band. But 41 hockey games a year? I don't see it working.

As for anchor tenants, I've noticed many of the concerts coming through Toyota Center are scaling the arena. Some are even going half-house. That's still drawing more people than the AHL Aeros, who the Minnesota Wild barely spent a nickel promoting. But I would imagine an NHL team would equal or better that draw, especially when Eastern teams that draw well on the road visit.

And I don't know if it's a national trend, but a new venue opened in another wealthy suburb, Sugarland, called the Smart Financial Center.

My guess is that it's geared toward acts that can draw up to 6,000 - 8,000, who have an older fan base that can afford to pay more for a more upscale experience than an outdoor shed. They've had acts like Sting, Don Henley, and Jerry Seinfeld.

Fewer tickets are sold, but prices are higher. So far it seems to be a success, which could cut into business usually going to Toyota Center.

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05-28-2017, 06:10 PM
  #33
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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.
When the coyotes came, both them and the suns had the same owner. No excuses, imo. Glendale was a bad idea and the next application better not have anything to do with a suburban arena because of that.

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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.
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Originally Posted by Aeroforce View Post
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.
Good points. Location is critical, and while there were certainly other factors as MN pointed out, the coyotes should have passed on Glendale.

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Originally Posted by DowntownBooster View Post
Both Houston and Atlanta should have a team simply based on the size of those markets. Nashville has demonstrated that a southern market can be a success. I do think that the best chance for teams in Houston and Atlanta would be through relocation as I cannot see anyone (or group) wanting to pay a $ 500 million expansion fee. I'm not sure why Las Vegas paid that much as I'm not sure they'll ever make a return on their investment. I'm not saying that Vegas is not a good market and I am happy for the fans there to have a team, I just think the expansion fee being charged is an outrageous amount. For a league that already has teams in most of the largest markets in the U.S., it seems the expansion fee being charged could only work in New York or Chicago if they didn't already have teams.

In regards to Houston and Atlanta, there is great potential for both markets but it's doubtful either one would get a team through expansion due to the exorbitant price. Right up front I'm going to state that I believe Les Alexander would be open to the NHL if it made sense to him financially. I know that others have written him off and say it will never happen. The same thing was said about Winnipeg before the NHL came back. Les Alexander had been interested in the NHL before, therefore, there's a possibility he could be again as long as it was in his best interests financially. If he was offered the Coyotes for the right amount to bring them to Houston, I think the NHL would be a success there. As others have pointed out, they would have a built in rivalry with Dallas. The fans in Atlanta were never the problem for a team there but rather bad ownership. Give them a competent and committed ownership group and I'm sure it would be a success like Nashville is. I know some have said that fans there wouldn't want another team based on what happened previously but I think that is selling them short. I believe they know it wasn't their fault and would look forward to having a team with good ownership. They could even have the Thrashers history back if they want it since that is where it occurred. I think Atlanta's best opportunity through relocation would be the Hurricanes if things are not successful in Carolina. In both situations the NHL could maintain a presence in the south even after relocation.

Having said all that, I'm not saying I want Arizona and Carolina to lose their teams. I want both to remain where they are and be successful. It's only if it's decided as a last resort that either or both cannot continue to make a go of it in their current markets, I would then like to see Houston and Atlanta get a chance to bring them to their respective cities.

Great post.

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Old
05-28-2017, 07:05 PM
  #34
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When the coyotes came, both them and the suns had the same owner. No excuses, imo. Glendale was a bad idea and the next application better not have anything to do with a suburban arena because of that.





Good points. Location is critical, and while there were certainly other factors as MN pointed out, the coyotes should have passed on Glendale.


Great post.
Suns and Coyotes same owner? Do Burke, Gluckstern, and Colangelo know about this?

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05-28-2017, 08:57 PM
  #35
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Suns and Coyotes same owner? Do Burke, Gluckstern, and Colangelo know about this?
It was essentially the same group until the other two sold. They were all close MN.

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05-28-2017, 09:06 PM
  #36
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It was essentially the same group until the other two sold. They were all close MN.
You will have to fill me in with more detail. I'm completely lost on the concept of Colangelo having any Coyote ownership.

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05-28-2017, 09:15 PM
  #37
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You will have to fill me in with more detail. I'm completely lost on the concept of Colangelo having any Coyote ownership.
He didn't physically, I'm just saying it was a business relationship that went bad and that's part of the reason why Arizona is where it is today.

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05-28-2017, 09:40 PM
  #38
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He didn't physically, I'm just saying it was a business relationship that went bad and that's part of the reason why Arizona is where it is today.
Well, that's not my impression at all. My impression in more like:

Burke and Gluckstern purchased the team with the hope of going to Mpls, but Mpls and the State of Minnesota wouldn't give them the subsidy they wanted, so they had a team with no place to play. What to do?

Bettman directed them to Colangelo in Phoenix, who owned the Suns and operated the arena. Jerry was glad to rent to the Coyotes, but the arena had lots of obstructed seats (like Barclay's). They did ok with attendance for a few years, but the arena didn't work financially for them.

B & G sold to Ellman, who was really a developer, not a sports guy, and he tried to get an arena, first in Scottsdale, then in Glendale.

From reports from posters like Legend, one gets the idea that Ellman may have been onto something, except that the team lost a year to the lockout, and the economy fell in the tank. All of which made the development lose money and not be advanced. And, thus, Ellman sold his shared to Moyes, and so on.

So, the only way you can say it was a business deal gone bad is if you assume that Colangelo made any promised to B & G, which I am not aware of. And, really, playing long term in a basketball-designed arena is not at all desireable.

So, i don't think you can blame the move on the Suns, or on Colangelo. The move to Glendale was brought about by the concept of "We have to do something because the present situation isn't working...."

And, the losses the franchise is stuck under began in Phoenix, and the arena in Glendale can't be blamed for that either.

At least that's how I see it.

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05-29-2017, 07:39 AM
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhaf1210 View Post
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.
Cedar Park, says, hello, folks, the AHL Texas Stars ring any bells, and the Dallas affiliation on top of that says no to an Austin franchise and throw in the Holt-owned Spurs G-League franchise that already exists, there's a reason why Cedar Park WAS SELECTED, AS the home of a pro franchise, folks, the Austin Spurs aren't a pro sports franchise?

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05-29-2017, 09:05 AM
  #40
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Cedar Park, says, hello, folks, the AHL Texas Stars ring any bells, and the Dallas affiliation on top of that says no to an Austin franchise and throw in the Holt-owned Spurs G-League franchise that already exists, there's a reason why Cedar Park WAS SELECTED, AS the home of a pro franchise, folks, the Austin Spurs aren't a pro sports franchise?
Austin is very similar to Columbus as it is a government town with a huge university that plays big time college sports. With the right owner it could work.

The key would be having the University of Texas involved as a partner in building a new arena as Texas basketball currently plays in an arena 40 years old. Could Michael Dell get involved? It has potential.

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05-29-2017, 09:11 AM
  #41
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Interesting, for anyone in the know or living there, whats the feel towards hockey there anyways? OP mentioned rec leagues? How much of a thing is it there?

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05-29-2017, 10:40 AM
  #42
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They should have got a team before Vegas I can tell you that. Maybe if Seattle doesn't work out they could be looked at again.

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05-29-2017, 11:35 AM
  #43
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They should have got a team before Vegas I can tell you that. Maybe if Seattle doesn't work out they could be looked at again.



The BoG has set the bar....any city who wants a NHL team needs to write a certified check for the above amount.

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05-29-2017, 12:23 PM
  #44
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The BoG has set the bar....any city who wants a NHL team needs to write a certified check for the above amount.
Not even a city, it has to be an individual, or small group.

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05-29-2017, 12:52 PM
  #45
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Montreal can lobby other owners in the US to block Quebec City. Montreal currently enjoys a francophone monopoly that is even tighter than what the Leafs enjoy.
Not if Quebec is forced to either pay an expansion fee, or a big relocation fee to the NHL.

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05-29-2017, 01:02 PM
  #46
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Originally Posted by jhaf1210 View Post
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.
They may not have a pro franchise, but the Longhorns are as close to a pro team as you can get without actually being a pro team, and they're active almost all year.

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05-29-2017, 01:37 PM
  #47
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Interesting, for anyone in the know or living there, whats the feel towards hockey there anyways? OP mentioned rec leagues? How much of a thing is it there?
For a big city with no team, the 'feel' of hockey is pretty strong in Houston. There are multiple facilities in nice areas that host rec and youth hockey. And someone at the Bruins' board even directed me to a curling club in Houston. There are lots of northerners living down here filling the rec leagues.

Also, roller hockey was very popular here in the 90's.

I haven't tuned in local sports news or AM talk since the arrival of high speed internet; but a few of the talk show hosts were big hockey fans and discussed it.

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They should have got a team before Vegas I can tell you that. Maybe if Seattle doesn't work out they could be looked at again.
I wish the best for Vegas, but I do agree.

In addition to Houston's bad timing in the 70's, it may have been even worse in the late 90's/early 2000's.

Chuck Watson resuscitated the Aeros as an IHL team around '94, with the hopes of grooming the market for the NHL. He did a fantastic job; magnificent job promoting, the players were active in the community, the team was great, and the city embraced them.

I was at the '99 Turner Cup Game Seven and in addition to being sold out, the building (The Summit) was electric. My girlfriend at the time, didn't follow sports. She had no idea it was technically 'minor league.'

Unfortunately Watson and Les Alexander didn't get along. On the heels of delivering the city's only major championships with the Rockets, there was no way Watson was going to get the arena over Alexander.

It's unbelievably unfortunate; we have a giant, diverse city with lots of corporate support, a modern arena in a great location, built in rivalry with Dallas - and no chance of getting a team.

The slim hope I have is when Les Alexander finally relegates control to heirs, the next generation may be more open to the idea of an NHL team.

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05-29-2017, 01:41 PM
  #48
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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...
Main factors to a successful expansion bid are:

1) Ownership with the money to pay the expansion fee
2) Having an arena and being in the right location
3) and IMO, having a target of where you want to expand and working with groups to make it happen.

I think the NHL of the 90's should have been more proactive in the selection of their expansion cities. Should have targeted where they wanted to be.

Seattle was in the running for a franchise back in the TB/OTT rounds, but the Seattle bid was a combination bit that included the owner of the Sonics, who bailed on the bid just before the final presentation to the league. That bid was to see the construction of a new arena in Seattle to accommodate with the NHL and NBA, but instead the Key Arena was remodelled.

Toyota Center in Houston broke ground in July 2001. So, realistically, they would have needed to be part of the Nash/ATL/Min/CBS expansion bid process of 96/97. NHL decided not to wait on Houston to determine funding for future Toyota Centre and went ahead with the expansion process without a bid from Houston.

It's situations like this that show that the NHL was very short sighted in their expansion process. Only cared about cities being on the NHL's timeline. Arenas are big money decisions with lots of red tape. If the NHL wants to be in certain markets, they have to wait for them to be ready. They seem finally ready to do that with Seattle now, but they lost opportunities with other markets.

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05-29-2017, 01:47 PM
  #49
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Originally Posted by Fenway View Post
Austin is very similar to Columbus as it is a government town with a huge university that plays big time college sports. With the right owner it could work.

The key would be having the University of Texas involved as a partner in building a new arena as Texas basketball currently plays in an arena 40 years old. Could Michael Dell get involved? It has potential.
I admit my bias in that I would be the first person in line to buy season tickets if Houston ever got a team; but that being said, I would stay away from Austin.

Austin not having any big league teams is mere semantics. People live and breathe college football in Texas, and you wouldn't want to see either the building or the TV ratings for a Saturday night game going against the Longhorns.

I know you are in the biz, so I apologize if this isn't a reliable source; it's the first that came up.

According to it, Houston is the 10th TV market, and the only city higher without an NHL team is Atlanta (#8). Austin checks in at #49.

I don't know if Bettman secretly concedes television revenue for the NHL will never be that great, but it would seem they would want to be in more bigger markets than smaller. Las Vegas is only #42 for what that's worth.

http://www.stationindex.com/tv/tv-markets

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05-29-2017, 02:14 PM
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Yukon Joe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Street Hawk View Post
I think the NHL of the 90's should have been more proactive in the selection of their expansion cities. Should have targeted where they wanted to be.
My recollection (and seemingly confirmed by a wiki page) is that in the 92-93 expansion there were multiple other bidders for a franchise, but Tampa Bay was granted one one the sole strength that they were willing to pay, up front, the entire $50 million dollar expansion fee. Other teams wanted to pay less, or pay it over time.

So then, as now, there's almost zero "selection" going on - whomever can pony up the money (as much money as the league thinks it can get) will be in.

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