Tuesday, May 30, 2006

KC Stars asks -- What'll it be, KC? Ice or Hoops?

Steven Penn has a column in today's Metro section.

What'll it be, KC? Ice or Hoops?

Obviously, Steve Penn doesn't have an editor checking his facts.

Seriously, can we get a little more in-depth, perhaps cynical, reporting from the Star? Please.

Penn writes:

All around town — especially on local radio talk shows — the hot topic being debated is whether Kansas City would more readily embrace the NHL or the NBA.

Really? Because all I hear on local talk shows is entertainment hosts droning on and on about Larry Johnson's bad attitude, Willie Roaf's knees, David & Dan Glass' ineptitude, their own golf games or who they interviewed while working in some small market in Oklahoma.

Pittsburgh isn’t the only team AEG officials have had discussions with; it just happens to be the most public.

I call B.S. How about if the Star lists all 30 NHL teams and their current lease agreements? Then, try to find a team other than the Penguins who may relocate.

You can tell a lot from a team's lease agreement. Yet, the Star's unbelievably lazy reporting hasn't looked into this yet.

Instead, all we get is rumor and speculation taken as fact from AEG. Well, of course, AEG is going to overstate the number of NHL teams that may move. They are protecting their own "spin" for why KC needed this arena.

The NHL is further down the track in Kansas City than the NBA. And that’s because of something called NHL21. That’s a group led by Paul McGannon that is actively trying to cultivate NHL interest here.
Right now there’s not even an “NBA1” group.

Well, ok, I'll give Mr. Penn a break on this one. Very true and it makes you wonder why there isn't a NBA21 group. Could it be because the NBA just isn't that interested in KC?

Selling all of the 61 suites at the new Sprint Center well before any team ever comes here is clearly a positive development.

61? I thought there were 72 suites.
And, so does, KCMO.

So does that mean 61 of the 72 suites are sold or does that mean Steve Penn needs a fact checker?

Tinnen said she’s almost sure the NHL commissioner would prefer to keep the team in Pittsburgh.

“They are due a new arena,” Tinnen said.

Finally, something truthful from AEG. We are in the backseat for the Penguins and will remain there until the slots casino license is awarded.

In a few weeks, the Sprint Center will launch its Web site. It will be a place where fans who want one league over the other can vote.

Good gravy, is anything more ridiculous than an Internet poll? Why not commission Gallup, a company with strong Midwestern ties, to conduct a study, using a random sample that mirrors the Kansas City metro areas' demographic, to find out which league KC residents are more interested in attending? Instead, we're going to get a ballot-box stuffing Internet poll. Great.

C'mon, KC Star, please try to step up your reporting to the level Seattle residents get from the Times and Post-Intelligencer.
Tale of two arenas, here and in Denver, is revealing
Nothin' But Profit: Winning no longer key to new NBA
What happens to Key Arena if Sonics leave?
Decade-old deal bungles talks for revamped KeyArena

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sam Fingold -- Get to know him!

Sam Fingold is a name you will want to know over the coming months.

Thanks to our friends at Hockey Populace , a great hockey blog, I have a link to an interview with Sam Fingold, the real estate mogul that wants to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins and, possibly, move them to KC.

The interview is from The Fan 590 in Toronto.

Where will Fingold take the Penguins if he purchases them?
Fingold says he's had preliminary conversations with the new arena in Kansas City and says he has had a quick conversation with Winnipeg. He says the Winnipeg Arena is a bit too small for the new NHL.

Fingold says his first choice is to stay in Pittsburgh if the Isle of Capri/Penguins group is awarded the slots license.

Does Fingold want the Penguins or any NHL team?
He says his motivation is to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins and not just any NHL franchise. He says there are six or seven teams he could look at purchasing (which, I still don't believe). He says the Penguins are attractive for two reasons: the Penguins are a fantastic team and they are "portable."

He says he had no interest in bidding on the St. Louis Blues because they are a terrible team that needs rebuilding.

Is Las Vegas really a contender?
He says people have to shift their focus OFF of Las Vegas. He says it's not going to happen because "the casinos" don't want the competition for the entertainment dollar. They want people to stay in their casinos, see shows in their casinos and go to Championship Fights in their casinos.

The Fan 590 host doesn't agree, but when a potential NHL owner says Vegas isn't a possibility, I tend to agree with the potential owner over the talk show host.

Sam Fingold lives in Hartford and says he has no intention of putting a team in Hartford.

How Professional Sports Franchises Make $$ with their Arenas

This is a simply outstanding story about Key Arena and how it compares to the rest of the NBA.
Nothin' But Profit: Winning no longer key to new NBA

Why don't we get this kind of reporting in Kansas City?

When AEG says "six NHL teams may be unhappy with their lease" why don't we get an analysis of the 30 NHL teams and their current lease agreements.

Why does everyone seem to take AEG's word for it?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Newark's new arena for the former Scouts

Great article on the New Jersey Devils new arena in downtown Newark.

Portland JailBlazers may start looking for a new home

Blazers see sale negotiations as hopeless

Well, the struggles of the Portland Trailblazers continue. The uber-wealthy Microsoft dude Paul Allen owns the worst franchise in the NBA. Allen is trying to find a way to sell the team and the Rose Garden, controlled by those who financed the arena, together to make the franchise more attractive.

How does this effect KC and the Sprint Center? Well...

Brimmer declined to specify what those possibilities might be, but Vulcan has not ruled out selling the team, moving it or putting it in bankruptcy.

Allen has said he has lost hundreds of millions of dollars on the Trail Blazers as player payrolls ballooned in his quest for a championship. Meanwhile, with attendance at an all-time low since the move to the Rose Garden, and receiving no money from luxury box contracts, permanent signage in the building, and concerts -- which all go to the Rose Garden owners -- the team is expected to lose more than $100 million in the next three years.

Isn't Paul Allen losing $100M like you and I losing $100 bucks? And, c'mon, he spent hundreds of millions of dollars on MISGUIDED contracts for awful players. I think the 'Blazers were the only franchise that thought hundreds of millions of dollars to Zach Randolph or Darius Miles would improve their "quest for the championship".

Allen previously owned the Rose Garden but complained of the debt payments on the construction loans and turned over ownership to lenders in 2005.

The funny thing about this whole situation is that Allen OWNED the Rose Garden, operated it and his franchise so poorly that his arena management company filed for bankruptcy, renegotiated the lease with the lenders, signed the lease and now he's whining that the lease HE renegotiated isn't fair. Oh, the plight of the super rich.

Allen and Stern have both said they would like the team's future settled before the June 28 draft.

Because starting July 1 they will begin negotiations with AEG to move to Kansas City's Sprint Center in 2007 perhaps?

What would Kansas City fans do with one of the worst baseball teams and one of the worst NBA franchises in the same city? At least the Pittsburgh Penguins have some hope for future success with Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury.

I don't think the Blazers are improving anytime soon. There is no LeBron James in the 2006 NBA draft. Tyrus Thomas, LaMarcus Aldridge and Adam Morrison are nice players, but none are going to turn a franchise around in two seasons.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hamilton, Ont. group gets in line to purchase the Penguins

Supply meet demand.

The supply for NHL teams is very small and the demand seems to be high. According to this article, a group in Hamilton, Ontario wants to purchase the franchise and move them to Hamilton, Ont.

Hamilton is the 8th largest metropolitan area in Canada with a population of about 715,000. It is the second largest metro in Canada without an NHL team. (Quebec City is larger, however, Quebec City, Hamilton and Winnipeg are all about the same size)

There are plenty of people in Hamilton (and St. Catharine's, too) to support an NHL team. The big problem for Hamilton as an NHL city is:

  1. Too close to Buffalo and Toronto. It's only 45 miles from Toronto and 65 miles from Buffalo.

  2. The arena -- Copps Coliseum was built in 1985 and seats 17,500.

Hamilton won't add the US TV households the NHL may be looking for, but the people there are hockey crazed.

People in line to purchase the Penguins:

Larry Gottesdiener, Real Estate mogul, Hartford, Conn. -- Willing to relocate the franchise to Hartford.

David and Sam Fingold, Real Estate moguls, Toronto/Hartford.
-- Willing to relocate the franchise to KC.

Hamilton Group(The primary backer is anonymous, however it is most likely Jim Balsillie, the CEO of Research in Motion -- you know the Blackberry people), -- Waterloo, Ont. -- Willing to relocate the team to Hamilton, Ontario

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

KC Star story on Penguins to KC

A day after a story in the Toronto Star (see below), here is the link to Randy Covitz' story.
March of (hockey) Penguins to KC?

And, now, here is my breakdown.

All-in-all a good story. However, I have a couple of problems with it.

"The Penguins play in antiquated Mellon Arena, and their lease expires at the end of the 2006-07 season. The franchise has struggled in recent years with revenues and attendance"

OK, yes, the team has struggled financially, but the Penguins FAR from struggled with attendance in 2005-06. The Penguins were #20 in NHL attendance at 15,804 per game which is 93.2% of capacity. The league average was 91.2% of capacity. Remember, the Penguins may have had Sidney Crosby last season, but they were HORRIBLE, second worst record in the NHL. Putting butts in 93.2% of seats for a really bad team is pretty good.

"The main hope for funding a new arena in Pittsburgh would be through granting the city one of the state’s 14 licenses for slot machines. That decision by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is due by the end of the year. All three companies applying for a license have promised to chip in money toward a new arena. Isle of Capri Casinos has gone a step further, saying it would pay $290 million for a new arena if it wins the license."

Yes, that is the main hope, but Covitz fails to mention the Governor's Plan B. Click here to read more about it.

In a nutshell, the Governor's Plan B calls for upfront money from the Penguins, plus a few million per year. Then, $7 mil per year from whomever is awarded the slots license, money from naming rights and paying off the rest of the $291 mil bond from a tax on the state's slots parlors.

The Plan B still has not received buy-in from Harrah's/Forest City, one of the potential slots licensees.

"He also speaks almost daily with Paul McGannon, president of NHL21, the local group dedicated to bringing the NHL to Kansas City."

OK, this is good for KC. McGannon really is doing a good job, especially since he and Tom Reiger stopped talking about the CHL.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Torontonian wants to move Penguins to KC

Wow! You knew there was going to be a twist. A Toronto businessman, David Fingold, and his son Sam, want to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and move the franchise to KC, if Isle of Capri isn't awarded the Pittsburgh-area slots license.

The Penguins are currently for sale.
Torontonian may move Penguins
Fingold might take club to Kansas City
Team's `great investment,' says magnate

I was starting to get complancent, as were many Penguins fans, because it looked like Pittsburgh solved their arena issue. And, that no NHL team may be available to move into the Sprint Center in 2007.

Not so fast.

"What we would get with the Penguins would be an affordable franchise and a portable one," Sam Fingold said in an interview. "We think this could be a great investment."

Fingold says the franchise is worth $120 - $130 mil if it stays in Pittsburgh, but $150 mil if a potential owner buys it to move it.

The Fingolds are Canadian real estate developers.

The article also says that at least six franchises are up for sale.

As the NHL moves into the playoff mode, after the first season following the league's season-long lockout, investment bankers who specialize in the pro sports business say that, strong attendance figures and TV ratings aside, at least a half-dozen franchises are up for sale.

While the owners of teams such as the Atlanta Thrashers, Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes would certainly entertain buyout offers, the Penguins may present the most compelling package for interested parties.

Which is simply stunning because of the NHL's new CBA and that Atlanta, Phoenix and Nashville operate the building in which they play, therefore generating revenue from events other than hockey games. They would not operate the building in KC.

I guess it goes to show that a guy on the outside of professional sports looking in has no idea what these mega-wealthy folks are thinking/plotting/scheming.

What would happen to Key Arena in Seattle?

OK, this article is bad for KC (that is if you want an NBA team here).

If city officials in Seattle, who are dragging their feet on a deal to renovate 10-year old Key Arena, read this article they may realize that renovating the arena for the Sonics is their only choice.

What happens to KeyArena if Sonics leave?

Basically, if the Sonics leave the Seattle area completely, Key Arena may be alright as a concert facility and home to the Seattle Thunderbirds, a Junior 'A' level hockey team. If a new building is built in Renton or Bellevue, Key Arena may as well be raised.

They'd also likely need to sign a second minor-league team to help the Thunderbirds hockey team playing there now fill out the calendar, according to the committee's report

If a guy by the name of Richard Adler calls, run away screaming...

Interesting part of the story as it pertains to KC.

Some of the old facilities become throwaways, white elephants that sit empty or underused. Most are demolished; others stay afloat by booking concerts, high school graduations, church assemblies, tractor pulls and minor sports.

It's created a big problem for city officials.

I guess the American Royal will keep Kemper from being a "throwaway, white elephant". It'll be interesting to see how our two arenas get along.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Adult hockey in Kansas City

Play hockey? Or, want to try it?

Both adult leagues are gearing up for the Summer session. The Summer session starts the first week in June, is about 12 weeks long and generally costs around $150 - $175 per player.

There is a league for every skill level whether you played in college, high school or have only played with your kid in the driveway.

KC Hockey
Pepsi Ice Midwest hockey
(links are on the right also)

If you don't want to join a league and would rather play shinny (proper term for pick-up hockey), go to AMF Ice Chateau on Sunday nights.

I'm warning you. Don't try it unless you have at least one night a week to play. Once you try it, you will be like me, a hopeless hockey addict.

Don't have gear? Well, you're online now, just go to www.greatskate.com or www.hockeymonkey.com and buy your gear. Or, head over to Nill Brothers on 119th.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The lowdown on the American Hockey League

Let's get something straight.

The AHL Board of Governors' goal is to have 30 teams, with 30 different owners with each team affiliated one-to-one with an NHL team.

Currently, the AHL has achieved one of these goals. There are 30 AHL teams with 30 different owners. However, not all of these teams are "active" or have homes. Right now, it looks as if the the AHL will have 27 teams in 2006-07 with three teams "dormant" for the upcoming season.

The deadline for establishing a team in the 2006-07 season is May 15. We will know in the next two weeks how many teams will be in the 2006-07 AHL.

The three dormant franchises are:

Utah -- privately owned -- Rumor is that the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers purchased the franchise and will move them to Cleveland in 2007-08. This should be announced at the May 15 AHL Board of Governors' meeting.

Edmonton -- Oilers own and operate the franchise and are looking for a new home.

-- privately owned -- the owner, Pete Robinson, also owns the Cincinnati Gardens. Last Winter, Robinson started a campaign to get enough season ticket holders to bring the AHL back to Cincinnati in the form of the Railraiders who would play at the Gardnes. They didn't make their goal and the Cincinnati franchise will remain dormant and is, most likely, for sale. www.railraiders.com

The AHL is a fantastic league. If you need convincing,

from www.theahl.com

"As the 2005-06 season kicked off on Wednesday, there were a total of 534 American Hockey League graduates spread out over 30 National Hockey League team rosters.

Better than three of every four NHL’ers on opening night were AHL alumni (76 percent),"

Hockey is not like baseball. In baseball, many of the top up-and-comers player AA baseball, i.e. the Royals in 2006 where Billy Butler, Chris Lubanski and Alex Gordon are playing AA. Many Major League Baseball teams treat their AAA farm club as a holding tank for older guys that can help in a pinch. The Royals brought up veteran Kerry Robinson from AAA Omaha.

In hockey, if a top prospect is 20 or older, he is, most likely, going to play in the AHL before being called up to the NHL. A few players, especially goalies, go to the ECHL to get extra ice time, but not many.

If a prospect is younger than 20, they, most likely, are playing in a Canadian Major Junior league (OHL, QMJHL or WHL) or with their NCAA team, like Hobey Baker winner Matt Carle, who was called up to San Jose after his season with Denver University ended.

Surprisingly, the NBA is finally catching on that a major, affiliate minor league is the best way to develop 18 - 20 year old athletes. The Lakers now own their own 'D' league team.
Lakers buy 'D' league team

Of course, the NBA continues to shoot itself in the foot at the same meeting by outlawing tights.

Now, c'mon, why in the world would you outlaw an article of athletic clothing that may help your league's players avoid and recover from hamstring injuries. Some of these NBA courts are placed on top of ice rinks and if a player has a nagging injury the chill of the arena may continue to aggrevate that injury.

Orlando' Sports Future

A three-part series in the Orlando Sentinel about Orlando's sports future. To be honest, I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing, yet.

I'll post it here first, then comment later. We are mentioned.

Other cities are on the hunt for an NBA franchise, including Kansas City, Mo., which is building a $250 million arena hoping to land a team by the time its doors open in 2007.