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01-23-2009, 10:36 AM
  #1
Pucknut50
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Future of the NHL

With the economy suffering will there be teams folding? Will there even be an NHL? I think in the next year your going to see some teams losing franchises. Leagues like the AHL may fold completly. This year your going to see over 10% of the working force out of a job. Were in a big hurt boys and don't be suprised if our own LA Kings fold or move.

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01-23-2009, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Pucknut50 View Post
With the economy suffering will there be teams folding? Will there even be an NHL? I think in the next year your going to see some teams losing franchises. Leagues like the AHL may fold completly. This year your going to see over 10% of the working force out of a job. Were in a big hurt boys and don't be suprised if our own LA Kings fold or move.
Just FYI, the housing market is on the upswing again. I work at countrywide (now BofA) and we've already hit 10 billion dollars in funding this month. Housing pricing however is not increasing. It's slowly starting to come around.

IMHO teams may have to take a short term loss to ride it out, but things will right themselves soon. I'm far from an expert on the subject, but people are overeacting in the stock market which is not helping the cause. Staples still sold out when ticket prices went down to 11 bucks a game, if anything it just means the salary cap is likely to go down.

Just my 2 cents worth, and I'm far from an expert that some of the guys here will be able to comment on.

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01-23-2009, 11:13 AM
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Unless the recession turns into a protracted depression, the NHL will still be around. Very few teams are their owners' principal businesses, and those owners are able to absorb the losses for the time being. Some teams may have more difficulty than others (Nashville comes to mind), and as you suggest they may move. If anything what I would expect more is that player salaries will go down as teams trying to be more fiscally responsible will try to cut payroll.

Not sure about the AHL but I assume that since around half of them are owned by NHL teams and the relative costs are low, there wouldn't be a point in shuffling them around or selling them off. Hockey is not an industry in which you can just shutter up R&D.

For the Kings, they have a low payroll and are in a relatively strong hockey market. I doubt that they could go anywhere where their financial situation would improve (otherwise that new locale would already have the Predators).

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01-23-2009, 11:15 AM
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I share your concerns about this economy, as it does appear to me that the worst is yet to come in various sectors, but it's far too early to speculate about the specific impact on the NHL or on any sports league because we yet don't know how bad the economy will get.

I suspect that other teams are in worse shape financially than the Kings. The entire Southeast Division, for instance, has always had a tough row to hoe. There are recent stories about a financial crisis for the Phoenix Coyotes. Struggling teams can get by if their owners are in strong shape financially, and it is difficult to know sometimes how owners themselves are really doing, but the Coyotes owner for one thing is facing financial difficulties apart from his team which is compounding the Coyotes $$ difficulties.

I'm one of those who subscribes to the idea that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if the NHL cut down a few teams off of the current 30. It's a dream of Gary Bettman's to expand the league but he never anticipated a rough recession like the one we are in (I think) the early stages of now.

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01-23-2009, 11:21 AM
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This is a good topic.

I don't know a lot about how an NHL team is run. The very bright poster, "Piston" would be a very good source of information here as he has seen the books of our Kings first hand.

My take is this: this is not as much an NHL problem (a full collapse) than certain particular franchises' problems (Atlanta being one example).

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01-23-2009, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zad View Post
This is a good topic.

I don't know a lot about how an NHL team is run. The very bright poster, "Piston" would be a very good source of information here as he has seen the books of our Kings first hand.

My take is this: this is not as much an NHL problem (a full collapse) than certain particular franchises' problems (Atlanta being one example).
Thanks Zad, Now stop posting and get back to work ;-).

In all seriousness, I just don't believe there are thirty viable markets in North America for NHL teams. I know for a fact that Atlanta is losing $25 mm+ a year and can be bought for a song. The new owners in Tampa are really struggling and are talking about unloading their franchise player. News that Phoenix is in trouble has leaked. Many of these financial problems preceded the economic downturn and are systemic rather than cyclical. Having said that recessions are good things in pressuring unviable businesses to close and allow fresh capital to go to businesses that yield a higher return.

I suspect that the initial response will be some franchise movement. Basile may finally get his team in Hamilton, and perhaps Winnipeg will be restored. The problem is that there are more teams in serious trouble than there are fresh markets that can support them. Seattle could not hold on to the Sonics, Salt Lake will be ready in five years. What other markets can support this product?

When I did my report, my basic conclusion is that contraction was the only answer to the problems that plagued the NHL. We lost an entire season because the owners refused to accept this economic reality. Yet, the system they put in place has failed abysmally in addressing the key financial problem facing the league- the huge disparity in revenues between the various teams.

While overall league revenues have increased due mostly to the strength in the Canadian dollar, the teams at the bottom financially have not benefited. Making matters worse, the resulting higher salary cap has increased expenses for the lower revenue teams. In other words, what has been good for Montreal and Toronto has been a disaster for Phoenix and Atlanta. The players like the current system and have agreed to not opt out of the CBA. This is because they know they will get paid by the higher revenue teams. But what of Atlanta and Kovalchuk, Tampa and Lecavalier, Florida and Bouwmeester? These teams will have to decide whether to pay their stars and carry a roster of slugs or watch them leave in order to not tie up too much salary in one player.

I believe either the revenue disparity between the top and bottom team needs to be fixed, or the bottom teams must be allowed to fail. An extended recession will force this hard choice on a league that can no longer avoid putting off this critical problem.

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01-23-2009, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piston View Post
Thanks Zad, Now stop posting and get back to work ;-).

In all seriousness, I just don't believe there are thirty viable markets in North America for NHL teams. I know for a fact that Atlanta is losing $25 mm+ a year and can be bought for a song. The new owners in Tampa are really struggling and are talking about unloading their franchise player. News that Phoenix is in trouble has leaked. Many of these financial problems preceded the economic downturn and are systemic rather than cyclical. Having said that recessions are good things in pressuring unviable businesses to close and allow fresh capital to go to businesses that yield a higher return.

I suspect that the initial response will be some franchise movement. Basile may finally get his team in Hamilton, and perhaps Winnipeg will be restored. The problem is that there are more teams in serious trouble than there are fresh markets that can support them. Seattle could not hold on to the Sonics, Salt Lake will be ready in five years. What other markets can support this product?

When I did my report, my basic conclusion is that contraction was the only answer to the problems that plagued the NHL. We lost an entire season because the owners refused to accept this economic reality. Yet, the system they put in place has failed abysmally in addressing the key financial problem facing the league- the huge disparity in revenues between the various teams.

While overall league revenues have increased due mostly to the strength in the Canadian dollar, the teams at the bottom financially have not benefited. Making matters worse, the resulting higher salary cap has increased expenses for the lower revenue teams. In other words, what has been good for Montreal and Toronto has been a disaster for Phoenix and Atlanta. The players like the current system and have agreed to not opt out of the CBA. This is because they know they will get paid by the higher revenue teams. But what of Atlanta and Kovalchuk, Tampa and Lecavalier, Florida and Bouwmeester? These teams will have to decide whether to pay their stars and carry a roster of slugs or watch them leave in order to not tie up too much salary in one player.

I believe either the revenue disparity between the top and bottom team needs to be fixed, or the bottom teams must be allowed to fail. An extended recession will force this hard choice on a league that can no longer avoid putting off this critical problem.
Thanks for the analysis. Lots of insight contained in a few choice paragraphs.
Question: having seen the Kings books (when???-- I assume you were one of the independent auditors that they allowed to examine them to give credence to their claim of losses several years back) are you at liberty to specify what the Kings pay AEG for rental of the facility on a per game or seasonal basis?

I have always contended that by counting that as a cost, the Kings could manipulate their losses/profits in any way they desire. I know counting rental costs for the facility would be in line with GAAP, but it nonetheless leads to the conclusion that the money simply transfers from the left to pocket to the right while the Kings claim a loss couting up only the money in left pocket.

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01-23-2009, 03:36 PM
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pucknut50 View Post
With the economy suffering will there be teams folding? Will there even be an NHL? I think in the next year your going to see some teams losing franchises. Leagues like the AHL may fold completly. This year your going to see over 10% of the working force out of a job. Were in a big hurt boys and don't be suprised if our own LA Kings fold or move.
The owners of the Kings are like the top 200 wealthiest people in the world. I doubt the Kings will have to fold.

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01-23-2009, 03:52 PM
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Firstly, there is people saying that their will soon be a new team in NHL?
Then, there is people who are saying that some teams will fold?
What is it?

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01-23-2009, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DIEHARD the King fan View Post
Thanks for the analysis. Lots of insight contained in a few choice paragraphs.
Question: having seen the Kings books (when???-- I assume you were one of the independent auditors that they allowed to examine them to give credence to their claim of losses several years back) are you at liberty to specify what the Kings pay AEG for rental of the facility on a per game or seasonal basis?

I have always contended that by counting that as a cost, the Kings could manipulate their losses/profits in any way they desire. I know counting rental costs for the facility would be in line with GAAP, but it nonetheless leads to the conclusion that the money simply transfers from the left to pocket to the right while the Kings claim a loss couting up only the money in left pocket.
The issue of transfer payments between different AEG entities is something I focused a huge amount of effort on during my study. What I found is that the Kings were receiving above market compensation from Staples Center (they receive 25% of suite/premier seat revenues, same as the Lakers even though clearly the Lakers are more responsible for selling these premium seats) and paid below market costs for services (accounting, legal, etc.) provided by AEG. The kind of manipulation you discuss is happening, in favor of the hockey team's financials.

There is no question that you have to look at the Kings and Staples Center as a single entity. When one does, AEG does OK because they can write off massive amounts of depreciation and interest on the loans to Staples on taxes at the AEG level. Anyone who wants to buy the Kings needs to purchase Staples Center as well for it to make economic sense. But, there is also no question that the Kings when analyzed as a stand alone entity are losing money despite benefits provided by the corporate parent. In other words, the money is made in the building, not by the team.

The good news is the Kings losses are fairly moderate, and big deferred salary obligations made by McNall have come off the books. With the huge amount being made by AEG in developing downtown real estate and in Staples Center, AEG has a huge vested interest in keeping the Kings around and making sure they are successful. Merchants at the new mall are being charged premium rent secure in the knowledge that a lot of hockey fans are going to coming down 41+ times a year. If there is contraction, and I believe there has to be, the Kings are not going to be even considered.

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01-23-2009, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by piston View Post
With the huge amount being made by AEG in developing downtown real estate and in Staples Center, AEG has a huge vested interest in keeping the Kings around and making sure they are successful.

This quote needs to be at the top of the kings forum. For every reader and every poster to see.

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01-23-2009, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piston View Post
The issue of transfer payments between different AEG entities is something I focused a huge amount of effort on during my study. What I found is that the Kings were receiving above market compensation from Staples Center (they receive 25% of suite/premier seat revenues, same as the Lakers even though clearly the Lakers are more responsible for selling these premium seats) and paid below market costs for services (accounting, legal, etc.) provided by AEG. The kind of manipulation you discuss is happening, in favor of the hockey team's financials.

There is no question that you have to look at the Kings and Staples Center as a single entity. When one does, AEG does OK because they can write off massive amounts of depreciation and interest on the loans to Staples on taxes at the AEG level. Anyone who wants to buy the Kings needs to purchase Staples Center as well for it to make economic sense. But, there is also no question that the Kings when analyzed as a stand alone entity are losing money despite benefits provided by the corporate parent. In other words, the money is made in the building, not by the team.

The good news is the Kings losses are fairly moderate, and big deferred salary obligations made by McNall have come off the books. With the huge amount being made by AEG in developing downtown real estate and in Staples Center, AEG has a huge vested interest in keeping the Kings around and making sure they are successful. Merchants at the new mall are being charged premium rent secure in the knowledge that a lot of hockey fans are going to coming down 41+ times a year. If there is contraction, and I believe there has to be, the Kings are not going to be even considered.
Thanks for the info. As a lifelong LA resident, I have mixed feelings about AEG, and based on many factors, I have developed a healthy skepticism for what they preach as the truth of things. My gut tells me that they truly dont care about hockey or the Kings, as long as they get their tax breaks, low interest loans and approval for their development plans of their vast real estate holdings. I have always thought that they bought the Kings to further their development plans.

Yet, my eyes and brain tell me that what they have brought to downtown is good for the city and the economy of Los Angeles. They are providing a central locale for entertainment in an area that is quickly going through regentrification. Who would have thought 10 years ago of living downtown, much less travelling their for anything other than business, and leaving before it got too late.

I have no concerns about the Kings failing, but I do harbor grave doubts as to whether AEG will ever spend the kind of money needed to bring a championship team here, despite everything they say and claim that they will do.

Thanks again for the insight.

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01-23-2009, 04:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piston View Post
The good news is the Kings losses are fairly moderate, and big deferred salary obligations made by McNall have come off the books. With the huge amount being made by AEG in developing downtown real estate and in Staples Center, AEG has a huge vested interest in keeping the Kings around and making sure they are successful. Merchants at the new mall are being charged premium rent secure in the knowledge that a lot of hockey fans are going to coming down 41+ times a year. If there is contraction, and I believe there has to be, the Kings are not going to be even considered.
Thank you for this writeup, piston. This is actually very enlightening.

This may just be the cynic in me, but it actually doesn't mean to me that AEG has a vested interest in making sure the team is successful; just that they need to fill seats and make sure there are fans that take that trip to Staples. I would even go so far as to suggest that RAISING ticket prices plays into this if they wanted to raise the average income of an attending fan.

More of a reason to NOT attend games if the product on the ice is not to your liking.

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01-23-2009, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by piston View Post
I suspect that the initial response will be some franchise movement. Basile may finally get his team in Hamilton, and perhaps Winnipeg will be restored. The problem is that there are more teams in serious trouble than there are fresh markets that can support them. Seattle could not hold on to the Sonics, Salt Lake will be ready in five years. What other markets can support this product?
AEG and Harrahs Entertainment are building a massive, state of the art arena a block off of the Strip in Las Vegas in an effort to lure a NHL and/or NBA team.

I used to work in Sports Marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and still have quite a few connections there. The LVCVA handles, essentially, all the marketing for the city of Las Vegas. There has been a lot of talk in my old dept. regarding a NHL team being the first tenant of the new arena. I've also recently heard that we closed a deal to have the NHL awards event in Vegas at the end of the season.

Mark my words: the NHL and Las Vegas are on the verge of a very lucrative relationship. I'm willing to bet we see a team in Sin City before we see one in a much smaller market like Hamilton or Winnipeg. Vegas is a virtually untapped goldmine for professional sports franchises, yet owners have always been wary of bringing a franchise here due to the gambling risk. The NHL often comes up as the most viable candidate because of the league's relatively clean history.

A team here would be great for the city of Las Vegas and absolutely monstrous for the NHL. Trust me.

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01-23-2009, 05:13 PM
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Something has to give with the Panthers, Preds, Thrashers and Coyotes....One of those franchises has to move....Bottom line.....

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01-23-2009, 05:35 PM
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The NHL survived the Great Depression...

Of course things were different back then. Hockey teams were in hockey markets, and I would suspect that the cost to operate a team was less (relative to inflation).

As for the economy, I think things are going to get much, much, worse. Just IMO.

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01-23-2009, 05:37 PM
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Piston is the bee's knees.

...and by the way buddy, I am out of the office all day today

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01-23-2009, 05:41 PM
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A team here would be great for the city of Las Vegas and absolutely monstrous for the NHL. Trust me.
Las Vegas Thrashers? Las Vegas Panthers? Las Vegas Lightning? Las Vegas Predators?

Las Vegas Coyotes?

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01-23-2009, 05:48 PM
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I'm in favor of folding a couple teams so long as the LA Kings are not one of them. The NHL doesn't have enough talent to spread out through 30 teams.

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01-23-2009, 05:49 PM
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Las Vegas Thrashers? Las Vegas Panthers? Las Vegas Lightning? Las Vegas Predators?

Las Vegas Coyotes?
The name I've heard tossed around the most for a potential franchise here, whether it be from expansion or relocation, is the "Las Vegas Black Aces."

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01-23-2009, 05:57 PM
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Las Vegas CoyPreLiPrashers

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01-23-2009, 06:03 PM
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I have my doubts about whether Vegas could support a team. On top of the fact that it's probably too small, it's also one of the cities that's been hit the hardest by the real estate collapse. One out of every 11 houses in Las Vegas is in foreclosure.

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01-23-2009, 06:04 PM
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I'm in favor of folding a couple teams so long as the LA Kings are not one of them. The NHL doesn't have enough talent to spread out through 30 teams.
The problem isn't not enough talent. It's that the games are too long. And too many players on the ice at a time. And it isn't played with a bright orange ball.

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01-23-2009, 06:08 PM
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I have my doubts about whether Vegas could support a team. On top of the fact that it's probably too small, it's also one of the cities that's been hit the hardest by the real estate collapse. One out of every 11 houses in Las Vegas is in foreclosure.
This is assuming the attendance profile will be like a normal market team in which the majority are locals. In Vegas, even if there aren't enough Vegas residents to pick up the season tickets those seats will still be filled one way or another.

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01-23-2009, 06:30 PM
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AEG and Harrahs Entertainment are building a massive, state of the art arena a block off of the Strip in Las Vegas in an effort to lure a NHL and/or NBA team.

I used to work in Sports Marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and still have quite a few connections there. The LVCVA handles, essentially, all the marketing for the city of Las Vegas. There has been a lot of talk in my old dept. regarding a NHL team being the first tenant of the new arena. I've also recently heard that we closed a deal to have the NHL awards event in Vegas at the end of the season.

Mark my words: the NHL and Las Vegas are on the verge of a very lucrative relationship. I'm willing to bet we see a team in Sin City before we see one in a much smaller market like Hamilton or Winnipeg. Vegas is a virtually untapped goldmine for professional sports franchises, yet owners have always been wary of bringing a franchise here due to the gambling risk. The NHL often comes up as the most viable candidate because of the league's relatively clean history.

A team here would be great for the city of Las Vegas and absolutely monstrous for the NHL. Trust me.
Does that mean that the Kings and said Vegas team for frozen fury?? because ive yet to go and it would suck if it ended because of this, well maybe not a team there in vegas. it does make more sense then in florida.

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