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Bettman shares thoughts on Thrashers ownership

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Old
02-10-2010, 09:25 AM
  #76
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Hey gang, let's try to focus back on the ownership issues in Atlanta.

Obviously, the commissioner seems to be sending a message to someone. He's generally known for putting a lid on these types of things.

Has the NBA team suffered as much from the battle within ownership ranks? Why/why not?

What's the end game for Bettman?

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02-10-2010, 09:30 AM
  #77
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Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
Hey gang, let's try to focus back on the ownership issues in Atlanta.

Obviously, the commissioner seems to be sending a message to someone. He's generally known for putting a lid on these types of things.

Has the NBA team suffered as much from the battle within ownership ranks? Why/why not?

What's the end game for Bettman?
It's seem GB doesn't want to move teams that he placed in their current locations. But he had no problem moving Winnipeg and Quebec. But now Atlanta, Nashville and Pheonix are dying slowly and he is protecting them in their current location.

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02-10-2010, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by yooper wings fan View Post
It's seem GB doesn't want to move teams that he placed in their current locations. But he had no problem moving Winnipeg and Quebec. But now Atlanta, Nashville and Pheonix are dying slowly and he is protecting them in their current location.
What's he saying to the Atlanta ownership group? Where is this headed?

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02-10-2010, 09:36 AM
  #79
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Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
What's he saying to the Atlanta ownership group? Where is this headed?
IMO I think he's saying you and a few others are making me look bad, get it together.



I also feel GB is getting pressure from the other owners to get Atlantas and other teams in state that he preached that they could be in and aren't close.

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02-10-2010, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
What's he saying to the Atlanta ownership group? Where is this headed?
I personally feel that he is just covering his own butt. He's saying that the NHL is dedicated to the market, blah blah blah, but by issuing this statement to the Thrasher owners, he is giving them a warning to shape up because he is running out of options. He needs to portray himself as doing everything he can to 'save' the franchise, but there really is little he can do at this point. At some point I see him saying, "we tried our best to keep the franchise here, but there just wasn't anyone willing to invest the money to keep it here, so we had to look elsewhere."

What else can he do?

It will be difficult to sell the Thrashers separately to an investor looking to keep the team in Altanta, since the new owners will not own the arena and miss out on the revenues associated with it. So the only option for Bettman is to try to get the existing owners to stick with it, or the team is likely to be on it's way out of Atlanta.

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02-10-2010, 09:55 AM
  #81
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Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
Hey gang, let's try to focus back on the ownership issues in Atlanta.

Obviously, the commissioner seems to be sending a message to someone. He's generally known for putting a lid on these types of things.

Has the NBA team suffered as much from the battle within ownership ranks? Why/why not?

What's the end game for Bettman?

There are three factions in the Spirit ownership group.

An Atlanta faction, which has some history with Hawks but not the Thrashers. - These guys also probably feel some civic duty and stepped up to buy the teams and arena to help Atlanta. These guys may not have deep pockets.

The Boston faction (Belkin) - always wanted to own an NBA team and also was interested in making a killing on a highly leveraged investment. (the financial crisis killed that idea) He doesn't give a crap about hockey, and is a noted cheap SOB with a buck.

The Washington faction (Levenson & Peskowitz) - former Wash Caps minority owners, they're the only ones who care about hockey. It takes votes of 2 out of 3 factions to get anything done. I'm guessing Belkin votes 'no' on everything, so the Washington guys have to convince the Atlanta guys (who might not have deep pockets) to get anything done on the hockey side.

The group is trying to bring in new investor(s). But who would step into this mess, when likely you're going to be hit up for cash calls instead of making profits? A Vinik type guy is needed.

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02-10-2010, 10:13 AM
  #82
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But we do know that attendance at the Winnipeg pre-season game was rather poor this year. But some people will promise you that market will willingly pay a higher-than-average ticket price needed in that smaller-than-average building.
The people in Winnipeg have had enough of lining the pockets of struggling franchise owners by giving them extra revenue with sold out games in the preseason. They've already done enough by selling out the building for nearly every other year's pre-season game and have figured out that by not giving more money to struggling teams, the likelihood of seeing their own team in pre-season and regular season games improves. And the attendance for this year's game was still better than nearly all other pre-season games with prices higher than any other venue, if I recall correctly.

Good attempt at trying to prop up your market by tearing down another based on one pre-season game attendance number though. There's no need for that kind of thing when there's room for actual dialogue and discussion.

As for what Bettman is trying to tell the Atlanta Spirit group, my guess is that he wants them to shape up or ship out, but the entire thing is a mess as has already been stated (multiple ownership groups, new owner wouldn't own the arena, etc.). He's never shown this level of frustration at a team's situation in public, so I can only imagine how much he's fuming behind the scenes.

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02-10-2010, 11:26 AM
  #83
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Originally Posted by LetNoneIn View Post
There are three factions in the Spirit ownership group.

An Atlanta faction, which has some history with Hawks but not the Thrashers. - These guys also probably feel some civic duty and stepped up to buy the teams and arena to help Atlanta. These guys may not have deep pockets.

The Boston faction (Belkin) - always wanted to own an NBA team and also was interested in making a killing on a highly leveraged investment. (the financial crisis killed that idea) He doesn't give a crap about hockey, and is a noted cheap SOB with a buck.

The Washington faction (Levenson & Peskowitz) - former Wash Caps minority owners, they're the only ones who care about hockey. It takes votes of 2 out of 3 factions to get anything done. I'm guessing Belkin votes 'no' on everything, so the Washington guys have to convince the Atlanta guys (who might not have deep pockets) to get anything done on the hockey side.

The group is trying to bring in new investor(s). But who would step into this mess, when likely you're going to be hit up for cash calls instead of making profits? A Vinik type guy is needed.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of how the mgt of the Hawks and Thrashers has been better/worse/equal, etc. I don't follow the NBA so I don't really know how the Hawks fit into the grand scheme of things in that league.

One should not overlook what Leonsis wants to do in DC. I think someone above asked for an example where an NHL team shared an arena with an NBA team, but wasn't the majority owner (or recipient of other revenue streams). Now that the Verizon Center and Wizards are available, Leonsis wants to buy them as well. The Atlanta ownership, unless they're completely giving up on hockey, is better off owning two anchor tenants and then doing everything possible to make it work.

I also believe that Ilitch would be better served owning the Pistons and Wings, and then putting them in the same arena-- now that the Pistons are for sale. Problem is that he's a huge baseball and hockey fan. He owns the teams because those are his passions. Purely from a business perspective, it's far more efficient to own the NBA/NHL teams and stick in the same building.


Last edited by Fugu: 02-10-2010 at 12:22 PM. Reason: synapse misfired...:)
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02-10-2010, 11:54 AM
  #84
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Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
Purely from a business perspective, it's far more efficient to own the NBA/NHL teams and stick in the same building.
Depends on which side you are on. I would contend that if Atlanta Spirit owns the NBA and the building, but someone else owns the Thrashers and pays rent to play at the Philips arena, it's more profitable than owning the Thrashers themselves. The problem with that is that there aren't likely to be many buyers wanting to do that because it is not profitable from their stand point.

So you now have to ask yourself a few questions:

1) Does Atlanta Spirit want to own an NHL hockey team that loses money(whether it be for the love of the game, or any other reason)?

2) If they sell the team, who is going to want to buy it only to have to pay rent to Atlanta Spirit to play at the Phillips Arena, and not collect much of the revenue associated?

3) Is it better for Atlanta Spirit to have the arena sit empty than to house the Thrashers?

(no, nobody, yes are my answers)

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02-10-2010, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
Can you give us a brief synopsis of how the mgt of the Hawks and Thrashers has been better/worse/equal, etc. I don't follow the NBA so I don't really know how the Hawks fit into the grand scheme of things in that league.

One should not overlook what Leonsis wants to do in DC. I think someone above asked for an example where an NHL team shared an arena with an NBA team, but wasn't the majority owner (or recipient of other revenue streams). Now that the Verizon Center and Wizards are available, Leonsis wants to buy them as well. The Atlanta ownership, unless they're completely giving up on hockey, is better off owning two anchor tenants and then doing everything possible to make it work.

I also believe that Ilitch would be better served owning the Pistons and Wings, and then putting them in the same arena-- now that the Pistons are for sale. Problem is that he's a huge baseball and hockey fan. He owns the teams because those are his passions. Purely from a business perspective, it's far more efficient to own the NBA/NHL teams and stick in the same building.
Well, the Hawks are now winning - because the high draft picks they got from years of suckitude are now paying off. Essentially, the Thrashers never made any thing out of their first set of high draft picks (Kovalchuk/Heatley/Lehtonen) and were abysmal in spotting later round talent to fill out the team The bright spot is that now they have a second round of high pick talent (Bogosian/Kane) and have been doing much better with the later round picks. But it still takes time. Most STHs decided not to wait it out.

Business model wise, - the two teams plus arena ought to work. The Atlanta arena is a very good concert venue. And I beleive Spirit gets parking revenue also. But considering the overall losing situation they've been in, they haven't kept up the arena with repairs and it's starting to be run down and it's not much more than 10 years old.

I also believe the arena location is a permanent detriment, especially to hockey. The arena was built downtown for political reasons. But Atlanta is like Los Angeles in some respects - lots of sprawl and lots of traffic. It can be a pain to get there from the outer burbs through weeknight rush-hour traffic. Both NBA and NHL have struggled with weeknight attendence. They don't have that problem on weekends.

Hope this helps.

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02-10-2010, 12:06 PM
  #86
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Maybe he's saying...

"In the past 12 months I've made Moyes, Koules and that idiot from Victoria lose over $100M. Get your **** together or you're next."

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02-10-2010, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by TrentSteele View Post
Depends on which side you are on. I would contend that if Atlanta Spirit owns the NBA and the building, but someone else owns the Thrashers and pays rent to play at the Philips arena, it's more profitable than owning the Thrashers themselves. The problem with that is that there aren't likely to be many buyers wanting to do that because it is not profitable from their stand point.

So you now have to ask yourself a few questions:

1) Does Atlanta Spirit want to own an NHL hockey team that loses money(whether it be for the love of the game, or any other reason)?

2) If they sell the team, who is going to want to buy it only to have to pay rent to Atlanta Spirit to play at the Phillips Arena, and not collect much of the revenue associated?

3) Is it better for Atlanta Spirit to have the arena sit empty than to house the Thrashers?

(no, nobody, yes are my answers)
Everyone wants to call the NHL a business. So with that said name for me another business that would allow a parts of the business to continually lose $$$$ year after year. In most business today failure would be met by major scrutiny of the business's Board of Directors.

It time for GB to get the Atlantaís to **** or get off of the pot.

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02-10-2010, 12:10 PM
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Well, the Hawks are now winning - because the high draft picks they got from years of suckitude are now paying off. Essentially, the Thrashers never made any thing out of their first set of high draft picks (Kovalchuk/Heatley/Lehtonen) and were abysmal in spotting later round talent to fill out the team The bright spot is that now they have a second round of high pick talent (Bogosian/Kane) and have been doing much better with the later round picks. But it still takes time. Most STHs decided not to wait it out.

Business model wise, - the two teams plus arena ought to work. The Atlanta arena is a very good concert venue. And I beleive Spirit gets parking revenue also. But considering the overall losing situation they've been in, they haven't kept up the arena with repairs and it's starting to be run down and it's not much more than 10 years old.

I also believe the arena location is a permanent detriment, especially to hockey. The arena was built downtown for political reasons. But Atlanta is like Los Angeles in some respects - lots of sprawl and lots of traffic. It can be a pain to get there from the outer burbs through weeknight rush-hour traffic. Both NBA and NHL have struggled with weeknight attendence. They don't have that problem on weekends.

Hope this helps.

What does a very good concert venue have to do with bettering the NHL and it's propping up the Thrashers with revenue sharing $$$?

Those said revenues don't go back to the NHL in revenue sharing, so it has nothing to do with NHL.


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02-10-2010, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by yooper wings fan View Post
What does a very good concert venue have to do with bettering the NHL and it's propping up the Thrashers with revenue sharing $$$?

Those said revenues don't go back to the NHL in revenue sharing, so it has nothing to do with NHL.
No, but it has everything to do with cashflow for ASG.

The fact most people overlook is most sports franchises are not owned to make money. In fact, for most owners, a loss is okay because it simply gets written off on taxes. It's simply a cog in a much more grand scheme of business.

How many owners of teams can you think of that have made their millions by owning teams?

besides, the setup of philips Arena is a gold mine for ASG.

Philips Arena makes a ton of money.
Atlanta Hawks break even.
Atlanta Thrashers lose money.

ASG, while maybe without the incredibly deep pockets of some owners, aren't hurting for cash

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02-10-2010, 01:28 PM
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The Flames did lose money in Atlanta, but they weren't bleeding money. Cousins (the owner) was totally strapped for cash at the time and was happy to sell the team to the highest bidder. A more stable owner would have kept The Flames in Atlanta.
The expansion fee for the Flames to enter the league in 1972 was $6 million. The majority owner was Tom Cousins, who's primary business was real estate development. Near the end of the 70's the bottom fell out of the construction industry along with a nation wide recession.

The team was sold for a record $16 million in 1980. To put this into perspective, the Boston Bruins were sold for $10 million in 1975, and the Detroit Red Wings were sold for $8 million in 1982 (link).

$16 million was simply a staggering amount of money in 1980 and too much for someone who was a risk of losing his primary business to pass up.

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02-10-2010, 01:41 PM
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No, but it has everything to do with cashflow for ASG.

The fact most people overlook is most sports franchises are not owned to make money. In fact, for most owners, a loss is okay because it simply gets written off on taxes. It's simply a cog in a much more grand scheme of business.

How many owners of teams can you think of that have made their millions by owning teams?

besides, the setup of philips Arena is a gold mine for ASG.

Philips Arena makes a ton of money.
Atlanta Hawks break even.
Atlanta Thrashers lose money.

ASG, while maybe without the incredibly deep pockets of some owners, aren't hurting for cash
OKAY once again what does any of the above have to with the fact that the Thrashers are losing tons of $$$$$$ every year. And how does any of the above help the NHL and its partners. Obviously know of the said revenues are being shared the NHL. Iím pretty sure the NHL only cares the revenue that the Thrashers donít produce.

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02-10-2010, 01:55 PM
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Obviously you haven't paid any attention to the topic of this thread, which is the ownership of the Atlanta Thrashers, aka Atlanta Spirit Group, aka ASG, and their ability to fund an NHL hockey team..... not about how ASG helps the NHL or it's partners.

As I said before, it amuses me at how some NHL fans enjoy watching franchises fail, reject the notion of creating fan interest in new markets, and as someone else added, taking attendance numbers so personally.

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02-10-2010, 02:15 PM
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Obviously you haven't paid any attention to the topic of this thread, which is the ownership of the Atlanta Thrashers, aka Atlanta Spirit Group, aka ASG, and their ability to fund an NHL hockey team..... not about how ASG helps the NHL or it's partners.

As I said before, it amuses me at how some NHL fans enjoy watching franchises fail, reject the notion of creating fan interest in new markets, and as someone else added, taking attendance numbers so personally.
And you're missing the point that GB is telling the NHL's Thrashers to get their **** together. Again all ASG does/makes does not make the Thrashers a thriving franchise.


Simple question for you?

Does or have the Thrashers received the NHL's revenue sharing $$$$?

If the answer is yes then the NHL and partner are very interested in their abilities to fund an NHL hockey team.

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02-10-2010, 02:56 PM
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True, but the real issue at heart here is Bettman telling the ownership to get their act together. The ownership of the Thrashers is ASG. He's not talking about from a financial standpoint, but rather from a structural standpoint, being the factions within ASG. Profit sharing isn't at the heart of this. It's a structural issue.

If fans were smart though, they'd wait until the current global financial crisis is done before they start calling foul of other franchises....

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02-11-2010, 02:18 AM
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I personally feel that he is just covering his own butt. He's saying that the NHL is dedicated to the market, blah blah blah, but by issuing this statement to the Thrasher owners, he is giving them a warning to shape up because he is running out of options. He needs to portray himself as doing everything he can to 'save' the franchise, but there really is little he can do at this point. At some point I see him saying, "we tried our best to keep the franchise here, but there just wasn't anyone willing to invest the money to keep it here, so we had to look elsewhere."

What else can he do?

It will be difficult to sell the Thrashers separately to an investor looking to keep the team in Altanta, since the new owners will not own the arena and miss out on the revenues associated with it. So the only option for Bettman is to try to get the existing owners to stick with it, or the team is likely to be on it's way out of Atlanta.
Trent, you make some interesting and provocative points.

From what I understand, Atlanta is different from Phoenix in that the NHL franchise is in no way tied the to the arena master lease or bond payments on the 91% tax-payer subsidized $213.5 million arena. Hence, bankruptcy would not be needed as a means to void the NHL team's lease and move the team.

If the above is correct, there is no requirement, in other words, of having an NHL team play out of Philips Arena in the master lease agreement between ASG and the city -- which master lease, if typical, allows ASG to collect most of the revenue from the arena, for sporting and non-sporting events. (On the other hand, according to certain reports an NBA team is very much required to be a tenant of the arena for ASG to maintain the lease.)

So the equation ASG may be looking at or trying to sell to potential investors is whether:

-- Philips Arena with concerts, NBA and NHL (the latter of which is operating at a huge losses)

is worth more than

-- Philips Areana with concerts (and more good concert dates) and NBA ONLY (plus $150 million or more in a cash infusion from the sale of a relocatable NHL franchise which is currently cash flow negative in Atlanta).

On top of that, it has been reported recently that Philips is eager to renegoitate with ASG or sell to a third party the naming rights deal for the arena that requires (reportedly) both an NBA and NHL tenant. It seems plausible to me that ASG and Philips could come to terms on a modified deal to their mutual benefit -- ASG gets an immediate cash infusion of $150 million plus for the sale of the Thrashers and Philips gets a reduction in the annual dues for the naming rights, which it can maintain or sell to a third party.

Also, as you have mentioned, it is not clear how the NHL could prevent ASG from selling the Thrashers to another city after the 7 year no-relocate clause expires. What would be the BOG's alternative in Atlanta?

GHOST

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02-11-2010, 04:41 PM
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Ghost, this may be the first time I've read one of your posts and actually agreed with the points you are making. The entire Thrashers franchise is a business propostion, and will probably be decided by questions like the ones you raise.

This ASG situation is a mess, thru-and-thru. Personally, I think Bettman is flated PO'd at the entire situation.

Atlanta is a big enough city to support franchises in all four major sports, there is not doubt about it. The ownsership problem in Atlanta has made the Thrashers into an abandoned boat, just floating adrift. No one manning the controls, just floating out there, trying to get by.

Bettman can see the potential of the market, and I'm sure it just infuriates him to no end. There is no reason that team should not be playing to 95+% capacity every night. There is just too many people down there for that not to happen.

The fact of the matter is that the team just has not been handled properly from the get go. If it wasn't mismanaged or run on the cheap (and it's hard to say which was which) they would have won more, and drawn more because of it.

People on here seem to neglect the fact that winning brings on bandwagon fans - I live in Pittsburgh, I would know - the bigger the bandwagon, the more chance for fans to become die-hards, and not fall off as soon as a non-playoff year hits. If you don't win, you don't get the bandwagon, and therefore don't grow the fanbase of die-hards.

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02-12-2010, 12:56 AM
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Ghost, this may be the first time I've read one of your posts and actually agreed with the points you are making. The entire Thrashers franchise is a business propostion, and will probably be decided by questions like the ones you raise.
I can't possibly imagine why this is only the first time that you have agreed with anything I have posted.

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02-12-2010, 06:46 AM
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The Flames did lose money in Atlanta, but they weren't bleeding money. Cousins (the owner) was totally strapped for cash at the time and was happy to sell the team to the highest bidder. A more stable owner would have kept The Flames in Atlanta.

In the decade before Orr you couldn't give away tickets to Bruins' games, and during the ugly "Boycott the Bruins" period the Thrashers outdrew the B's. Funny, when the Thrashers do well, they sell out just like any other normal NHL team. Now that the Drama Queen Coast-All-Chump is gone, the T-Birds will be respectable again.
What do you mean once again? What do you mean when they do well they sell out? They have had a decent attendance average one season in their lifetime. It was their first season and the team stank, as all expansion teams do.

If the Flames were doing ok in Atlanata their would have been a 'more stable owner' in Atlanta. From what I found the Omni Group (Cousins was part of) also owned the Atlanta Hawks....after getting the Omni built for the Hawks (bought and re-located from St. Loo) the group wanted an NHL team for the building as well. As I stated previously, they got it by luck that the NHL was wanting a team in Long Island's new arena before the WHA got there. After they got this team they realized it was losing more money than they ever anticipated and wanted to dump it quickly. Why anyone would show up and purchase a team when the group that controls it's arena can't make work is beyond me. They had a brand new rink and the Owners controlled the rink...you can't ask for a better situations than that aside from owning the venue.

This is all just pointless blabbering (by both of us) anyway....the Atlanta Flames lost money and had poor attendance....the Atlanta Thrashers are losing money and have poor attendance (and always have except for their inaugural season). Those are the facts.

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02-12-2010, 06:59 AM
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What's the end game for Bettman?
I can't stand the guy...but I won't deny that he is a smart man. To me, this 'calling out', sort of, of the Thrasher Ownership is laying the ground work for future excuses if the team does end up relocating.
Ownership wasn't able to get their act together will be the excuse for the NHL franchise's financial losses, this leaves Bettman less on the hook for going to a market that failed.

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02-12-2010, 07:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrey93 View Post
I can't stand the guy...but I won't deny that he is a smart man. To me, this 'calling out', sort of, of the Thrasher Ownership is laying the ground work for future excuses if the team does end up relocating.
Ownership wasn't able to get their act together will be the excuse for the NHL franchise's financial losses, this leaves Bettman less on the hook for going to a market that failed.
For once I agree with you.

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