Who might play in Sprint Center? Ask the right question
Which team will it be in the Sprint Center?
I think I may have the answer.
Ask the right question
Since the announcement of Sprint Center, the KC media and sports fans have wondered which franchise will move to Sprint Center. However, the KC media has asked the wrong question to arrive at the answer.
The KC media keeps asking, "Which NHL or NBA is a candidate to relocate to Sprint Center?"
Then, they look at attendance figures and make assumptions about which franchises' may move. They take AEG's word for it that teams are looking to relocate to KC.
Rather than asking the proper question is, "Which NHL or NBA team may be interested in relocating to KC?"
Asking this question changes the story. It would immediately eliminate the Nashville Predators. Because the Predators operate the arena in which they play. The franchise is not going to move to an arena that they do not operate (AEG will operate Sprint Center).
History of NHL franchise relocation
The next question that needs to be answered to find the franchise that may relocate to Kansas City is "What has happened in the past when franchises have relocated?"
There is a great Web site that documents each NHL team, past and present, and what caused them to move to a new city.
First, the KC Star says AEG's Brenda Tinnen said this:
Even though 2007 is fast approaching, Tinnen said there is time for a franchise to move to Kansas City and begin play in the fall. She said the NHLÂs Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver and the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix with three- to six-month turnarounds.
The Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets situations do not pertain the current NHL at all.
The Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets, Hartford Whalers and Edmonton Oilers all have one thing in common. THE NHL NEVER WANTED TO BE IN THOSE MARKETS IN THE FIRST PLACE.
The NHL absorbed those four teams from the WHA in order to stem the tide of rapidly escalating salaries as a result of the competing leagues. The NHL never wanted to be in those markets and allowed new owners to ditch Quebec City, Winnipeg and Hartford at the first opportunity.
If not for five Stanley Cups, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glen Anderson and a heroic effort by the people of Edmonton, the Oilers may have left Alberta. Now, 30+ Edmonton investors own the team in the NHL's version of the Green Bay Packers.
The common thread
One common thread binds the NHL teams that have relocated. They relocated shortly after the franchise was sold.
The Hartford Whalers, Atlanta Flames, Colorado Rockies, Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques all moved within three years of being sold. (The California Golden Seals moved to Cleveland two years after being sold. This relocation was a particular bad move as the team struggled both years in Cleveland and was dissolved so the owner, George Gund, could re-start in the Bay Area as the San Jose Sharks).
Only the Minnesota North Stars and our Kansas City Scouts moved without a recent sale of the team. Norm Green moved the North Stars to Dallas because Minneapolis didn't build him his own arena and, well, he wanted to move to Dallas. And the Scouts moved because the 13 owners were morons. The Scouts lasted only two seasons, but remember the Rockies almost lasted only two seasons, too. The NHL initially blocked the move from Denver to New Jersey, only to allow the move three seasons later.
As we look at the current NHL landscape and study the events of the past, we can come to the following conclusion.
NHL franchises that own the arena in which they play will not move. NHL franchises that operate the arena in which they play are a long shot to move to an arena they would not operate. NHL franchises that are currently building new arenas will not move.
And, most importantly, in nearly every case of NHL franchise relocation a team is sold.
Now for the pure speculation...
The only NHL team that may meet this criteria, from public reports, is the Atlanta Thrashers. Atlanta Spirit LLC owns the Thrashers, Hawks and Phillips Arena. However, it is entirely possible that this ownership group will be split up as a result of a nasty court struggle for control of the teams. The compromise to this court struggle, could be to grant Steve Belkin, a Bostoner, the opportunity to purchase one or both franchises. If Belkin gains control of the Trashers, he will not want to pay rent to Atlanta Spirit LLC, from whom he is estranged, to play in Phillips Arena. He may look for a new home and could call AEG.
This is absolutely, positively speculation on my part. My speculation does, however, have as much merit as KC Star reporter Randy Covitz' comment about Nashville in a recent article. As a matter of fact, my speculation has more merit because I've done some research.
My call. The next NHL team to be sold will move to Kansas City. It may be the Thrashers
You know, I'm not sure Atlanta would miss them. Can't Find a Thrasher Anywhere