Friday, April 28, 2006

Another UHL team bites the dust


My first post on this blog generated this response,

"KC won't get an NHL team, live with it! What I thought was pathetic was that last year I came from St. Louis to see our River Otters play your Outlaws and the fans there, with their turned up noses at the UHL made me sick. You ingrate people haven't had pro hockey in 3 years to that point and just because it wasn't triple A level it got snubbed, sad to say the least."


So, now that the River Otters are folding does that mean that St. Louis' hockey fans have "turned up noses" and are "ingrates".


Shanahan pulls plug on the River Otters


No. What that means is that the UHL is a product that just isn't right for markets like Kansas City and St. Louis. It's a fine product for places like Fort Wayne or Rockford or Quad Cities.

Ultimately, St. Louis may be the wrong size city to support a minor league team such as the River Otters. A bigger city, such as Chicago, can accommodate a team because of the many millions of people there. And smaller cities, such as Fort Wayne, Ind., can support a UHL team because there is no big-league alternative.


Places like Kansas City and St. Louis have too many other entertainment options to plunk down good money to watch bad hockey. Smaller communities respond better to minor league sports. The River Otters averaged less than 2,500 fans this season. I guarantee that number would be more than double if the team in St. Charles was an AHL team (an ECHL team, affilated with Peoria and the Blues would draw 4,000+).

Look, it's NEVER the FANS fault when a professional sports team folds. It is the OWNERS' fault. Just as it isn't the casual diners' fault when a restaurant fails or consumers' fault when a clothing store folds or travelers' fault when Vanguard Airlines folded.

This market simply wasn't right for the UHL, especially a team that was rushed to market and poorly operated. I told people that worked at Kemper Arena the UHL wasn't the right product before the team was ever announced and that they should hold out for the AHL.

Now, hopefully, we can get an AHL team in the Sprint Center and see some terrific young players come through town.

Speaking of the UHL, how about the FBI targeting Danbury Trashers owner James Galante in a FBI racketeering investigation. Galante owns numerous trash companies in Connecticut.

Minor league hockey official, players, subpoenaed in trash probe


"With more than 60 companies named in FBI documents, the trash probe is shaping up as one of the largest ever to target organized crime in the industry."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

HOCKEY TALK RETURNS TO KC


Not since Blades announcer, and all-around great guy, Bob Kaser had a successful show on KMBZ has KC had a really good hockey show. Now, "Drop the Puck" will air Friday afternoons at 3 p.m. on Hot Talk 1510.

Justin Scholtes, assistant program director at Union Broadcasting, will host and produce a one hour radio call-in program to highlight the game of hockey. The program premieres Friday, April 28th and will run through the Stanley Cup playoffs in June.

"I've been working on this program for quite some time," said Scholtes. "Now, is the right time to launch it."

The one hour, fan-interactive format will focus on everything from the NHL, AHL and other North American minor leagues. In addition, the program will discuss local youth and amateur teams and the business of hockey in Kansas City. (see the links on the right side of the page for more info about KC-area hockey).

Hot Talk 1510 is also available via live stream at www.1510.com.

This is a great addition to efforts being made to build and maintain Kansas City's hockey fan base. Justin plays in local adult hockey leagues and is a great advocate for our game at one of Kansas City's most influential media outlets. Union Broadcasting also owns Sports Radio 810. He is an important voice within Union Broadcasting's walls for getting the hockey message out. The noon show host on 810 is a hockey fan, but the afternoon host has a severe case of Midwestern myopia (if it isn't Chiefs, Royals or Big XII, he doesn't think it exsits or has a bias against it) and getting time on the afternoon show will be an uphill struggle for any team (NHL, AHL, or even NBA). Justin's influence will be very important.

Listen beginning this Friday!

Great job, Justin.

Monday, April 24, 2006

History of Seattle's arena problems

Really interesting article on Seattle's Key Arena and the terrible lease deal the Sonics have.
Decade-old deal bungles talks for revamped KeyArena

It's terrible because it is detrimental to both the team and the city. The team doesn't get enough revenue from luxury boxes, ticket sales and naming rights.

The bond for the 1995 renovations is supposed to be paid for with arena revenues from ticket sales, etc. The first four years the city received a surplus. Since the 1999 NBA lockout, the city has had to cover debt costs out of the general fund.

See, terrible for both sides.

Still curious to see how this plays out.

The team is probably for sale and basketball hasn't been very successful in the Pacific Northwest, unless you are a Gonzaga fan. However, as I will always say. It is not the FAN's FAULT if a team fails.

It is the OWNER'S FAULT or the LEAGUE'S FAULT.

Both cities (Portland and Seattle) have a rich hoops tradition that has produced thrills, championships and sold-out buildings. If the NBA fails here, it can fail most anywhere. That is a prospect that should scare the hell out of the shareholders (NBA owners), not because of what fans in the Northwest might think, but because it diminishes the value of their investments.

The North American market has reached its saturation point for cash-ravenous pro sports teams. There are few, if any, new cities that are worth the risk for an NBA that is floundering where it flourished.

Even Oklahoma City, which has responded well as a rental home for the orphaned New Orleans Hornets, doesn't have the population or the corporate base to sustain long term an NBA payroll.

Neither is KC. The NBA doesn't have the "cost-certainty" of the hard-cap NHL.

However, there seems to be a much better chance that the Sonics or Blazers move to KC than the Penguins. Portland and Seattle's arena problems are in flux, Pittsburgh's seems to have settled.

Nick Collison plays for Seattle. He would be an instant draw for half of the basketball fans in KC (Mizzou fans would probably still boo him.)

How will Pitt. get a new arena?

It's easy for those of us in Kansas City to say, "We'll have a new arena in 2007. An NHL or NBA team will move here." It's also easy for those of us in KC to say, "I think it will be the Penguins, they have an old outdated arena."

However, what are people in Pittsburgh saying. Well, Bob Smizik from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette agrees with me.

Which slots plan is best?

"It seems pretty clear that either by the Isle of Capri plan or by the funding process in Plan B proposed by Gov. Rendell that there will be a new arena in Pittsburgh. The Penguins probably will stay"


This is an interesting column about which slots casino plan is the "right" plan.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

ESPN's John Buccigross disagrees with me

ESPN's John Buccigross writes a weekly hockey column for ESPN.com. It is, quite honestly, the best hockey column out there.

I love Buccigross and wish he was part of OLN/NBC's television package.

In this week's column, Buccigross thinks the Pens WILL move. Here are his interesting answers to e-mail questions.

John,

All right, with all this talk of slots licenses and Plan B's, I can't take it anymore. Just give it to me straight: do you think that the Pens are going to stay in Pittsburgh? I know there's really no way to be sure, but it'd just be comforting for us die-hard fans to feel like someone's with us on this.

Peace, Love, and Pens,
Nancy
Pittsburgh

My instinct says no. Bored rich men with money and real estate love the action, and they will risk a major investment because that is how they operate. And they will usually invest in a hot market. However, this isn't the '90s anymore. States and cities don't throw outrageous money at professional sports teams. So, if a wealthy person cuts a deal quickly, or an arena is already available, the Penguins are safe. But you can feel the sharks circling and you don't sense a palpable enthusiasm to keep the Penguins in Pennsylvania. It reminds me of the New England Patriots when they were all but gone to St. Louis. Robert Kraft came in and saved the day. Now, New England is a gigantic market compared to Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh can be saved by a prince or a casino. Casinos seem to be America's answer to just about everything these days. Personally, I find the Penguins being saved by a casino a little creepy. But, as Chuck Noll used to say, "Whatever it takes."

John,

I saw this article floating around. "Developer May Move Penguins to Hartford." I always have to support New England states, so I'm rooting for it. I was wondering if you think (a) Hartford is a viable location for an NHL franchise; and (b) How much of this rumor is an effort to force the city of Pittsburgh to pony some dough for a new arena? Do you think there's any chance at all that Hartford could be the new Minnesota?

Matt K.
Massachusetts

Absolutely. There are about 3.5 million people in Connecticut. Springfield, Mass., has another 150,000. There are enough people. And the grass roots of amateur hockey is strewn throughout the state, from In House to NCAA Division I. The travel is easy on the players: It's close to Canada, and rookies can billet at Trey Wingo's house. The Penguins are an unrestricted free agent. The NHL is a strong international brand with almost a century of history. Communities and arena owners with only NBA, or no NBA team at all, are salivating at having an NHL team with such high-end young players who will be good for a long time. Hartford, the new Minnesota? Not quite. The hockey is high-quality and plentiful in Connecticut, and a riverside arena would be slammin', but there is no other place in the U.S. that even approaches hockey in Minnesota.


We'll see. I think, with Sidney Crosby, M-A Fleury and Evgeny Malkin creating new enthusiasm and the potential for a new arena, the Pens will stay.

Penn. Gaming Control Board Meets the Public

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board held their first public hearings about the Pittsburgh slots parlor license yesterday.

Ladies and Gentleman of Kansas City, in homage to Dan Rather, I am ready to call this race over. You can keep hoping this situation will crumble, but I am going to declare it now.

THE PENGUINS WILL NOT BE MOVING.

Here is Mike Prisuta column in the Pittsbrugh Tribune

Penguins, people have spoken

The Penguins Ken Sawyer said. "There is no other plan (referring to the Pens/Isle of Capri Plan) that has surfaced that guarantees the Penguins will be here. Unfortunately for you people, you may be deciding the fate of the Penguins."

"Sawyer was responding Tuesday afternoon to Mayor Bob O'Connor's contention yesterday morning that the arena issue had been "solved" and Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato "declaring victory" in the wake of Forest City (Harrah's) announcing Plan B was acceptable to them if it was acceptable to the Penguins."


But, c'mon, what is Sawyer going to do? "Yeah, we're good with either plan." No f'n way.

He is going to vehemently defend his position. He is going protect his investment and IofC commitment to the Penguins.

This is a done deal. Even if Isle of Capril doesn't get the license, Pittsburgh will get a new arena and the Pens will stay.

Don't get me wrong. KC will still come up as a viable alternative. But, sadly, it will just be leverage to get the best possible deal out of the "Plan B" arena.

The NBA doesn't interest me, but I think it's coming; either the Kansas City Blazers or Kansas City Sonics.

And, in the end, we hockey fans in KC will be treated to the AHL, the league we should have been all along (rather than the short detour through the UHL bus league).

Just for more reference, here is an article in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Penguins loyalists rally for casino-arena plan

Remember, these fans supported a complete loser. The Pens were awful, and yet, 15,804 per night (93.3% of capacity) turned out to watch this lousy team.

Stanley Cup fearless prediction


Who will win the Stanley Cup?

It's time for the greatest playoff in professional sports. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a challenge of will, stamina, determination, toughness and superior athletic ability. Those of use who have played the game know how difficult it can be to play every other day for two months.

Now, it all begins.

Well, #7 and #8 seeds rarely, if ever, win the Cup. Eliminate: defending Champ Tampa Bay, Montreal, Edmonton and Colorado.

Rookie goaltenders do not win the Cup. Eliminate: Nashville, Buffalo and the Rangers.

Who knows if Hasek will be back or if he will be sharp. Too many questions and Ray Emery is not a Cup winning goaltender. Eliminate: Ottawa

In the East it could be Carolina, New Jersey or Philadelphia
In the West it could be Detroit, Dallas, Calgary, San Jose or Anaheim.

Coaching makes a big difference which is why I will eliminate Carolina and Anaheim. Laviollette and Carlyle are a terrific coaches, but neither has experience deep in the playoffs. Tortorella didn't either, but I don't think lightening strikes twice.

New Jersey or Philly -- Brodeur still has it. NJ
Detroit, Dallas, Calgary or San Jose -- There is no strong case against any of these four teams. San Jose is very hot. Dallas has a great goaltender as does Calgary. Detroit is unbelievable efficient and Mike Babcock may be the best coach in the NHL. I'm going to go with Calgary. They have the recent experience deep in the playoffs and Kiprusoff is the best goaltender in the NHL.

Calgary over New Jersey for the 2006 Stanley Cup.

Monday, April 17, 2006

KC future home to Edmonton AHL affiliate?



A writer who covers the AHL for the Peoria Journal-Star says the AHL and the Edmonton Oilers are looking at KC as a possible home to an AHL team.

AHL MUSICAL CHAIRS

NHL Edmonton's search for a farm club has turned toward Kansas City, say league sources, as the Oilers protracted talks with Quad Cities seem to be losing momentum.


Since it looks as if no NHL teams will be relocating and that at least two NBA teams (Portland and Seattle) might be moving, then there is probably some legitimacy to this.

I could see the Kansas City Sonics (NBA) and Kansas City Oilers (AHL) playing in the Sprint Center.

I, of course, wouldn't spend a dime on NBA games and most likely purchase season ticket to the AHL. Regardless, I think this would be a good combo, along with the Brigade, for AEG and the Sprint Center.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Frank Boal says eight NHL teams looking to relocate

OK, so I have little respect for local TV talking heads in the first place, but Frank Boal has now re-inforced my lack of respect.

Today, I listened to his radio show while I cut the yard on a gorgeous Good Friday in KC. He says up to eight NHL teams are looking to leave their current market.

You see, this is why I have this blog. The amount of misinformation in the KC media is astounding.

Is this guy nuts? Does he know there is a new CBA in the NHL which allows a team in ANY market to successfully compete?

I must shoot holes in this statement, quickly.
BOSTON, CHICAGO, MONTREAL, DETROIT, NY RANGERS, TORONTO = Original Six teams -- WILL NEVER MOVE

ST LOUIS, PHILADELPHIA, SAN JOSE, DALLAS, PHOENIX, MINNESOTA
, VANCOUVER, COLORADO = New Arenas or franchises that are so stable they would not move.

Teams owned by local owners (real hometown guys): OTTAWA, BUFFALO, ANAHEIM, WASHINGTON

Owners committed to their markets because they either have a sweetheart lease or own and operate the building: CAROLINA*, ATLANTA, COLUMBUS

New arena on tap: NY ISLANDERS, NEW JERSEY

Well, I'm down to six. The teams in Canada aren't moving: EDMONTON, CALGARY

That leaves these four teams: FLORIDA, PITTSBURGH, TAMPA BAY, NASHVILLE

Pittsburgh will be on or off the list by the end of this year

Where does Frank Boal come up with eight teams? I can only come up with four and I'm not familiar with Tampa Bays situation, but I'd bet they're pretty stable in that market.

Hartford Courant says KC ahead of Hartford for NHL

A nice article about KC in the Hartford Courant.

K.C. Has Edge In NHL Pursuit

Nothing really earth shattering in this article.

NHL21 is trying to lure an NHL team to KC. We have a new arena. The luxury boxes are sold out. Kevin Gray says something incoherent.

Blah, blah, blah.

There is a mention of AEG being a powerful force in the NHL because they are already "in the tent", a term that owners use when referring to other owners in the insulated world of professional sports, I guess.

However, is AEG really that big of a boon for KC's arena? Professional sports these days is all about "revenue streams". Teams that own their own arena, or have a sweetheart deal from the local municipality (like Carolina has with Raleigh), are able to succeed. Those that don't have these sweetheart leases, like the Portland Trailblazers and Seattle SuperSonics, are not succeeding and looking to leave their current homes.

Will AEG give another NHL ownership group a "sweetheart deal"? I'm not so sure they will because they will want to recoup their $50 million investment. A favorable lease to a professional sports team, NHL or NBA, may preclude them from quickly doing so.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Kansas City has a local investment group for the NHL?

According to KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, there is a local group of investors in Kansas City looking to buy the Penguins.


(KDKA) PITTSBURGH KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan has learned that there's another suitor for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But unlike investors in Kansas City and Hartford, Connecticut -- who would move the team -- this investor wants to keep the team here.


Really? I'm not sure who Andy Sheehan is investigating or exactly what he is investigating, but I have never heard of a local group of Kansas City investors.

Sure, we have an arena. And, sure, we would like to have a NHL or NBA team. But, I don't think we have a group of "investors".

Friday, April 07, 2006

Hartford -- from a Pittsburgh paper

This article actually mentions KC -- as if Hartford has passed us by.

Hartford suitor ready to woo Penguins

First it was Kansas City, and now it's Hartford, Conn., that wants the team if it can't get a new arena in Pittsburgh.


Lawrence Gottesdiener, CEO of Massachusetts-based real estate developer Northland Investment Corp., said Thursday he's looking to buy the Penguins, either to keep them in Pittsburgh with a new arena -- or move them to Hartford, where he is lobbying state officials to build an arena.


"(The Penguins) are an excellent entry point to get into the NHL," Gottesdiener said. "We've said that we're in this to buy an NHL team."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More on Hartford

Hartford Developer Shops For NHL Team

"We're out there looking for a team," said Gottesdiener, head of Northland Investment Corp., which owns roughly $500 million worth of real estate in Hartford. "Hartford is my goal, but you can't bring a professional sports team to a secondary market in this day and age without a brand new, beautiful arena.

"So if that's not available here, then we'll own it somewhere else."


Gottesdiener isn't the only hockey suitor - Kansas City, Houston and Winnipeg are cities with new or soon-to-be opened arenas in search of a team.

Should an NHL team not be in Gottesdiener's future, he's willing to be flexible, he said.

"Right now we're focusing on the NHL," he said. "But if we find ourselves frustrated in that regard, the search will be expanded [to include the NBA]."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hartford back in the NHL before KC?

www.hockeypopulace.blogspot.com sent us a great link.

http://www.wtic.com/

There is podcast interview about bringing the NHL back to Hartford. It is a four-part series. Absolutely fascinating interviews.

This is a must listen if you are interested in whether KC gets an NHL team.

Hartford and KC are going about this in completely different ways.

Hartford = has local owners looking to buy a team now
KC = no local ownership group

Hartford = No new arena -- only the Hartford Civic Center. Would pursue a new arena with the commitment of an NHL (or NBA) team relocating
KC = has a new arena under construction with no NBA or NHL commitment

Northland Investment Corporation CEO Larry Gottesdiener is really committed to bringing an NHL team back to Hartford. As a matter of fact, he says he is pursuing the purchase of an NHL team right now. Gottesdiener is a New London, CT native and his company has already been involved in the revitalization of Hartford's downtown.

Also, Howard Baldwin, formerly the Managing General Partner of the Whalers, wants to bring an NHL team back. The guy made a killing as the producer of Ray, which won an Oscar and he wants to get back into professional sports.

Both say they have no reason to believe the NHL has plans for expansion. But, Baldwin did say that what Gary Bettman and NHL Board of Governors did was give small markets like Hartford the ability to compete.

Gottesdiener's plan is to purchase an NHL (or to a much lesser extent NBA) team now and move them to Hartford. He says his ideal timetable would be get a team and the financial underpinnings of a new arena by fall of 2006. He says a more realistic timetable is to construct a new arena and begin play in that arena in fall of 2008.

Baldwin wants to take more of a slow growth approach by purchasing an AHL team, renaming them the Whalers and waiting for the right opportunity get back into the NHL.

Unlike KC, Gottesdiener's Hartford group say they want the NHL and would, possibly, settle for the NBA. From all accounts, KC doesn't care which (though I would rarely, if ever, purchase a ticket to an NBA game when I can see better basketball at Allen Fieldhouse).

So, Hartford has two advocates; Gottesdiener and Howard Baldwin. We, KC, have one, AEG.

Well, what do you know, I had Hartford on the list of possible cities two months ago.

Penquins officials agree to talk about 'Plan B'

Well, another blow to KC's chances of getting the Pittsburgh Penguins to relocate to the Sprint Center.
Penquins officials agree to talk about 'Plan B'

Penguins officials are planning to talk this week with Pittsburgh and Allegheny County leaders about an alternate plan to build an arena, a spokesman said.


If they are willing to talk, I believe they are, most likely, going to find a solution.

The fees the Penguins will have to pay for the plan 'B' are not that much higher than what they would pay for the IofC arena. They are going to pay $3M under their own/IofC plan. And, under the Plan 'B', the Penguins still receive some revenue from non-hockey related revenue streams. The problem with the Plan 'B' isn't the Penguins. It is whether the other two proposals (Forest City/Harrah's and Don Barden) will agree to the $7M payment each year for 30 years.

And, if you think the local sports talk shows were acting irresponsibly over our stadium questions on the April 4 ballot with their petty bickering, you should hear what is going on in Pittsburgh over the Penguins/slots casino proposals.

Slots debtate tunrs into uncivil war

Can we just start pursuing the AHL now? The Edmonton Oilers are looking for a home for the AHL affiliate that they own and operate.