Thursday, August 31, 2006

Penguins to pay half -- KC Star erroneously reports

The Star hurriedly chimed in on the Fingold/30-day negotiation period story.

Thirty-day period over, but Fingold, who talked of bringing Penguins to KC, can still buy team

One of those issues likely centers on the arena situation. The main hope for funding a new arena in downtown Pittsburgh would be if the Isle of Capri is granted the city’s license for slot machines. The Isle of Capri said it would commit $290 million toward the new arena if it wins the license. But if one of two other companies receives the license, a secondary Plan B would provide only half the necessary funding of the arena, and the new owner likely would be responsible for the remaining costs.


Wow. That is very, very incorrect.
Penguins officials react cautiously to Rendell's backup arena plan

The governor's proposal would require annual debt payments of $18.56 million for 30 years. That money would include a voluntary $7.5 million annual contribution from whichever group receives the slots license; $7 million a year from the state new Gaming Economic Development and Tourism fund derived from slots revenue; $2.9 million a year from the Penguins'; and $1.1 million a year from naming rights and food and beverage sales at the arena.


From that where does anyone get "new owner likely would be responsible for the remaining costs [half]"

Let's get this straight
$7.5M per year from whomever is awarded slots license
$7M per year from Gaming fund
$2.9M per year from Pens (plus $8.5M up front)
$1.1M per year from naming rights


I went to the William Allen White School of Journalism at KU, twice, so I'm no math wizard, but I come up with the Pens paying 17% for the arena, not the misleading "remainder after half" that the Star quotes.

“It’s apparent to me that the Isle of Capri has to pass in Pittsburgh,” McGannon said. “If it doesn’t, the current Plan B would mean the current or future Pittsburgh ownership group would have to fund half the building. Well, the Kansas City deal is a better deal.”


What?
Is McGannon equally uninformed? Where do these guys get "half"?

Speechless. I'm simply speechless. The Star continues to take what AEG and NHL21 says at face value without questioning what they say or researching it to see if it is accurate.

Dear KC Star,
Here's a hint. When Fingold signed the LOI I put a note on my Yahoo! Calendar 30 days after the LOI. Then, I planned to post a story that day. Perhaps you could do the same thing in the future and be a little more timely.

Sincerely,
Your friend at www.kchockeybuzz.com

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fingold purchase of Pens may be in jeopardy

I tell you. Writing this blog and following the Penguins situation sure does keep one busy.

Now, the latest twist is that Sam Fingold's 30-day exclusive negotiating period may come to an end without a deal.

How is this significant to KC hockey fans?

Fingold is AEG/NHL21/KC's only hope for an NHL team in KC for the opening of Sprint Center. And, that hope is slim since the NHL has said they will not allow the Penguins to move.

Two stories in Pittsburgh today.
Is Penguins suitor looking for cash?

Unspecified issues remain in $175M sale of Penguins

Could one of those "unspecified issues" be that Fingold's intention all along was to move to the team to KC -- that Fingold saying he would work to keep the Pens in Pittsburgh was just lip-service?

That's what the Pittsburgh Trib seems to think.

A possible hurdle could be whether Fingold would be allowed to move the team. He has said he wants to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, but talked previously about relocating the team to Kansas City if Pittsburgh does not get a new arena.

"As far as we're concerned, we're negotiating to buy the land for a new arena and we're willing and ready to negotiate a lease," Onorato said.


And, perhaps Fingold doesn't want to negotiate a lease until he purchases the team. Well, Penguin ownership, there are other suitors perhaps it is time to move on.

The 30-day period ended over the weekend, and it appears the Penguins are the ones ready to pull out of negotiations.


The NHL must approve relocation. League officials have said they prefer to keep the Penguins here as long as the team does not have to keep playing at aging Mellon Arena. NHL Bylaw 36 states that the league has a right to block the relocation of a team as long as it is financially viable, or its owners are taking steps to make it so.


"They know (the arena) is real," Onorato said. "We're going to be able to continue to make a very strong case to keep the franchise here because of what we're doing on a multipurpose arena."


You know, as an outsider, this deal stunk from the beginning. Dave Checketts purchases the Blues for $150M when the Blues have a slightly larger market and a beautiful, new building with a plethora of luxury suites in which to play. I've been to nearly 10 NHL arenas and Savvis Center (or, whatever it is going to be called) is in my top 2 (I like Phillips Arena in Atlanta a bit better).

The Penguins are worth $25M more...just six to eight months later?

By the way, this story is very significant to KC sports fans. What did the Star have today?

Nothing.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Penguins sale -- It's been 30 days

Sam Fingold signed a letter of intent to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins 30 days ago (actually, I think it was the July 29, but close enough).

Fingold to buy Penguins

His LOI gave him exclusive negotiating rights for 30 days.

Paul McGannon of NHL21 said KC would know more about whether the Penguins will stay in Pittsburgh in 30 days.

The next 30 days will determine if Pittsburgh is able to come up with financial models and scenarios to stay in Pittsburgh," Mr. McGannon told the Star for a story appearing today.


Well, do we know more?

Let's give it a couple of days. Stay tuned.

Does Milwaukee need the Bucks? And, is the NBA right for medium-sized markets like Milwaukee (& KC).

That's the question a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnists asks.

Does this city need the Bucks?

He says the NBA with it's soft cap may be too expensive for a city like Milwaukee.

Or have the economics of the National Basketball Association grown so insane - the Bucks' $60 million payroll for 15 players, for example, ranks 15th among the 30 teams - that pro basketball no longer has a place in a city like Milwaukee?


If it's too expensive for Milwaukee, then it's definitely not the right professional league for KC.

And, what about the fact that the Bradley Center, built just 18 years ago, is already obsolete by NBA standards.

That is a hard concept for a number of Milwaukeeans, who see a clean, well-maintained arena and are outraged that a facility built in 1988 is already obsolete by NBA standards. But that is fact, not spin or fanciful thinking from Herb Kohl, business people or delusional sportswriters. It happened in Miami and Charlotte. It happened because NBA salaries spiraled out of control, because the Bradley Center does not have space for revenue-producing amenities, because times change, because of a thousand reasons. Sad to say, it happened.


Well, again, the NBA is wrong for KC with the spiraling salaries (remember, these giant payrolls are for a roster of 15 players).

So we are left with the unimpeachable reality that the Bucks will eventually need a new place to play, here or elsewhere, sooner than later.


Could that other place be KC? Probably not.

As long as Kohl owns the team, there will be no threats to move. The senator will also be in office for six more years, a period that should provide a little breathing room to rationally debate the issues. As a man who kept the team in town 21 years ago, Kohl has been a very good owner, one who has proved lately that he is willing to spend to win.


The fact is that the NHL has a hard cap of $44M, which, unlike the NBA, is friendly to markets like KC.

That very same cap is what is keeping teams from considering KC because NHL teams can make a go of it in any market now.

The NBA cap has created a league of instability with New Orleans, Seattle, Sacremento, Portland, Orlando, New Jersey and, now, Milwaukee considering relocation , whining about their current facility or current facility's lease.

Monday, August 21, 2006

NHL hockey to KC August 25

(OK, it's an adult game played with NHL rules, but it's the closest we can get, right now)
You want to see some fun hockey in KC this week.

Go to Pepsi Ice Midwest at 135th and Quivera Friday night, August 25 @ 8 p.m.

Local adult hockey players will play in a game with full NHL rules. That's right 20 minute periods and FIVE FOR FIGHTING.

Last time they threw this party at Ice Midwest it was standing room only and, yes, there was a fight.

Some of the guys playing in this game have ACHA club or Junior 'B' experience.

If you like hockey you really should check out this game.


(And, yes, the rink sells beer)


KC Photo Zone took pictures at the last game.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

New NBA team in AEG's radar?

Perhaps AEG has the Milwaukee Bucks on the radar for Sprint Center.

In spite of new lease, Bucks' future uncertain

The good news is the Milwaukee Bucks have a new lease at the Bradley Center through at least 2008.

The bad news is there is no consensus on a long-term solution for the Bucks, a franchise burdened with small-market status and an arena that is among the oldest in the National Basketball Association.


For now, the Bucks have a lease, though the financial terms did not change. The Bucks will continue to receive on an all-events basis 27.5% of gross receipts from concession sales and 13.75% of gross receipts from food and beverage sales in the suites. In addition, the team receives 30% of gross receipts from merchandise sales at Bucks games and the Bucks will receive about $2.6 million a year from the licensing of suites.


Interesting. Now we now what kind of lease offer AEG has to throw at a potential NBA or NHL team.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Omaha has it really good.

Omaha's hockey fans have it way better than we do. They have three hockey products from which to choose.

University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks -- NCAA Div. I in a conference with Ohio State and Michigan.
Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights -- AHL
River City Lancers -- USHL, the top Junior league in the US.

All three are fun to watch at an affordable price.

However, as I found out by perusing a UN-O Mavericks hockey blog, there seems to be a silly fight going on between Omaha Knights fans & UNO Mavs fans.

I can't believe those with so much complain when there are those with so little (KC Hockey fans).

A UNO fan on the Knights


The idea that we should pay top dollar to a for-profit corporation half-owned by out of towners to watch second-tier professionals in a decaying building with what is by all accounts a blah game presentation out of loyalty to the city is parochial and bizarre.


Wow, is this guy spoiled. We hockey fans in KC would give anything to have a team half-owned, or heck, fully-owned by out-of-towners. To see, not second-tier professionals, but up-and-coming NHL stars would be a gift.

We saw second-tier professionals for one season in the UHL. It sucks. The AHL is not the UHL and these players are not second-tier.


(By the way, I anticipate but reject the argument that says, "Well, we'll never get an NHL club if we can't support an AHL club." I'm not sure the city's economics or demographics would ever support an NHL club, at least not in our lifetimes. And do we really think we're going to get an NHL club before, say, Houston?)


You are right there. Support for an AHL team has nothing to do with how an NHL team would be supported. And, it's "before KC" not "before Houston".



Indeed, the Omahan's soul is stirred more by an undersized, underskilled player who has a heart the size of the moon, playing each game though it was his last, than by a skilled but uninspired journeyman who wishes he were anywhere but Omaha.


Wow, another shot at AHLers. It's amazing how one city's Pinot (Manchester, NH) is another city's MD 20/20 (Omaha). Lots of fans love AHL hockey, me included.

I can also see the value of NCAA hockey, but can't help but have fond memories of watching Archie Irbe and Viktor Kozlov play in KC. I've been to Mavericks games and love them. But to say AHL hockey is played by "uninspired journeymen" is simply a cheap shot.



Maverick and Lancer fans are legendary for their fierce loyalty; have you ever run into a Lancer fan who had seats at Hitchcock for the Lancers' 0-48 inaugural season?


I remember that Lancer season. It was great fun to go to those games. Later the Lancers moved to Ak-Sar-Ben Arena when the race track was still up-and-running. The atmosphere in that place was awesome. As a matter of fact, I saw the 1980 US Olympic hockey team play an exhibition game in the old Ak-Sar-Ben arena.


The staggering arrogance of the Knights organization -- from bullying the owner of the trademark "Omaha Knights" to the "Best Best Best" campaign, is something that Maverick and Lancer fans took notice of. We might have considered checking out a few games had we been asked nicely, or had we been treated like the intelligent consumers of the product that we are. Instead, we were to feel shame for patronizing lesser programs.


OK, that's a very good point. Which, once again, proves my point that a hockey team's success in a market place is only as good as their marketing team. I harp on this subject a lot.

The Knights' marketing campaign is flawed in so many ways I don't know where to start.

Why would anyone launch a marketing campaign that may offend the very people they are trying to attract?

Stupid and arrogant.
(though I still like the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights name and logo)


One of the more interesting changes in the collective Omaha psyche over the last ten years is that we've stopped acting like jilted girlfriends, begging for love and attention from the outside. Instead, we've lost a few pounds, started exercising again, bought some new clothes and have started showing up at parties feeling great about ourselves and turning the heads of those who previously overlooked us.


Which is why I love Omaha. I loved it when I lived there and I still love it. My 2-year old daughter loves it, too. She's constantly babbling about the "Omaha Zoo".


Omaha, you have a gift. You can attend a hockey game for less than $20 on nearly every weekend of the Fall and Winter. Omaha, you have a hockey community to which only hockey fans in the Northeast US can relate.

Embrace it.

Stop the Knights Vs. Mavs Vs. Lancers syndrome and do everything you can to get all three to survive and thrive.


You have no idea how much you will miss one of them when they are gone. When I read about the IHL folding, I thought "that's too bad, but professional hockey will return to KC." I had no idea how much I would miss it or how long it would be gone.

All that being said, I can't wait for my annual trip up I-29 to see the Mavs (and, hopefully, the Knights this year, too).

Friday, August 18, 2006

Malkin Mania


So, Evgeny Malkin is safely in the US skating with Rob Blake and others in LA.

You want to see why Penguins fans are fixated on the Evgeny Malkin situation?

Watch this.

Evgeny Malkin highlights

Damn.

He looked good in the Olympics. I had never seen these highlights.

Crosby, Malkin, M-A Fleury and it looks like Colby Armstrong is going to be quite good, too.

The Pens certainly have a bright future.

Now, please don't confuse MalkinMania with Valkenvania, a place depicted in quite possibly the worst movie ever, Nothing But Trouble. How can a movie with Dan Akroyd, Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, Taylor Negron and John Candy be so awful?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

So quiet...

Not much going on in the Pens to KC front.

This comes as no surprise. Sam Fingold is in a 30-day exclusive negotiation period with the Penguins, which is also a media "quiet period". This happened last year during the Blues sale, too. Dave Checketts entered a 30-day exclusive negotiation period with Paige Laurie's father and there was virtually no news during that time. Talks broke down between Paige's dad and Checketts the first time. Checketts didn't close the deal until (I believe) his second exclusive negotation period.

The Penguins fans these days are focused on Evgeny Malkin and whether he will be at training camp within the next month or so.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Evgeny Malkin's unbelievable story

OK KC hockey fans.

If Paul McGannon is telling the truth (unlikely) and there is still a possibility that the Penguins move here (probably just spin to save face), you HAVE to know about this story.

Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins #2 overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry draft, disappeared from his Russian team while they were training in Finland.

It's a long story that I don't have time to go into. You should read about it yourself.
Gonchar: Malkin staying in Russia
Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club
Russian club to sue over Malkin
Where in the world is Evgeny Malkin?

So, Evgeny Malkin, most likely, signed a contract to play one more season in Russia. But, he signed that contract under durress.

A plan was put in place to get smuggle Malkin out of Europe by having him disappear from his Russian club while training in Finland. He will, most likely, show up in the States or Canada in time to train with the Penguins next month.

When the details come out on this story it will be truly fascinating. I remember once hearing former Blade Michael Pivonka talk about how he fled the former Czechoslovakia. I'm sure this story will be equally as interesting.

I can tell you that this Malkin kid is absolutely, positively the real deal. He is Sidney Crosby, only bigger. I thought Malkin was terrific during this year's Olympic games.

I can't wait to see this guy play in the NHL. Now, it looks like it may happen this October.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Who owns what -- Part I

Here's a story I've wanted to post for quite some time. I just haven't had time to do all the research.

What kind of guy owns an NHL franchise?

It's a question we in Kansas City should be asking. Why? Because it looks like the only way we are going to get an NHL team is to get a locally-based owner to purchase a franchise with the sole intent of moving that franchise out of its current market and into KC (assuming, of course, that 34-year old Samuel Fingold doesn't do that with the Pens, which you know I believe he will leave them in Pittsburgh with a new Igloo).

The list is not quite complete. More later...

Anaheim -- Henry Samueli, Founder & CEO of Broadcom. Also operates the Honda Center (formerly Arrowhead Pond). Is an Orange County native.

Boston -- Jeremy Jacobs, CEO of Delaware North, an international food service and hospitality company.

Buffalo -- Tom Golisano, CEO of Rochester-based Paychex.

Carolina -- Peter Karamanos, CEO of Compuware. Also operates RBC Center where the 'canes play.

Chicago -- Bill Wirtz. Worst owner in professional sports. Owns Chicagoland liquor stores and other real estate interests. Also co-owns United Center with Jerry Reinsdorf.

Colorado -- Stan Kroenke, married a Wal-Mart heir. Also owns the NBA's Denver Nuggets, NLL Colorado Mammoth and owns and operates Pepsi Center.

Columbus -- John H. and John P. McDonnell, founder of Worthington Industries, steel processing and manufacturer of metal-related products. Also is co-owner of an AFL team and operates Nationwide Arena

Detroit -- Mike Ilitch, founder of Little Caesar's Pizza.

Los Angeles -- our friends at AEG. Also own about 50% of MLS (which is a good thing...love MLS...now get us a soccer-specific stadium in KC like Home Depot Center)

Minnesota
-- Several investors operated by Bob Naegele, Jr. who once owned 50% of Rollerblade.

Montreal
-- George Gillett, an American, CEO of Swift Meats and other meat-related food businesses, Northland Services, a marine transportation business, car dealerships and a landscaping and garden products business. Also owns Bell Centre (got to use the Canadian spelling...)

Nashville -- Craig Leipold, entrepreneur founded Ameritel, a B2B telemarketing firm and purchased Rainfair, a manufacturer of protective clothing and footwear. Also operates Gaylord Entertainment Center.

New York Rangers
-- MSG owns the team and the Knicks. James Dolan is CEO and hired Isiah Thomas to run his basketball team...'nuf said.

New Jersey Devils -- Jeff Vanderbeek, former Managing Director at Lehman Brothers.

New York Islanders
-- Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar, CEOs of Computer Associates. Plans to refurbish Nassau County Coliseum are almost 100% approved.

Ottawa -- Eugene Melnyk, CEO of Biovail, a large pharmaceutical company that makes Wellbutrin.

Philadelphia
-- Comcast owns the team, Ed Snider is President.

St. Louis -- Dave Checketts, former CEO of Madison Square Garden, is the new owner as of a few months ago.

Vancouver -- John McCaw and Francesco Aquilini. McCaw is co-founder of McCaw Communications and McCaw Cellular, Aquilini is the head of a family-owned real estate investment firm (commericial, residential, and golf courses).

Washington -- Ted Leonisis, Vice Chairman of AOL.

That is just a sampling of the type of guys that own NHL teams.

I'll fill in the rest of the teams later.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

When the music stops, Pac NW franchises please sit down

So Paul Allen is no longer looking to sell the Portland Trailblazers.

Allen pulls his 'for sale' sign off Blazers, spurning buyers

This announcement comes without a solution to the problem the billionaire was whining about.

But the decision to take the team off the market does not resolve that uncertainty, and in fact may create more. The team remains the same financial black hole it was five months ago, in which it receives none of the revenue from luxury suites, premium seating and other valuable income streams that normally flow to NBA franchises.


Allen's announcement came after the Seattle SuperSonics were sold to an Oklahoma City investment group.

As Church lady once said, "How con-veeen-ient!"



One question is whether Allen could seek to relocate the team to Seattle, despite contracts that require the Blazers to play at the Rose Garden until 2025. The owners of the Seattle SuperSonics, frustrated over efforts to win public financing for arena construction, announced two weeks ago they would sell the team to a group from Oklahoma City.


The Sonics' new owner wants a new arena in Seattle.
Bennett has visions of 'multipurpose entertainment complex' for Sonics

Let's say, just for fun, he doesn't get one.

  • The Sonics move to Oklahoma City.

  • Paul Allen and his band of dorks (hey, the investment firm is called "Vulcan", what else could they be?) move the Blazers to Seattle, where Allen already owns the NFL franchise.

  • The 23rd largest TV market, Portland, is left without a professional sports franchise.

  • With a beautiful, relatively new building, Portland is now in direct competition with KC for the next available NBA or NHL team.

    A city without a professional sports franchise, Portland -- or -- KC which would be the smallest market with three professional sports franchises*.



    *this does not include the Wizards, which it should. But, until they get a soccer-specific stadium ("SSS"), they don't count because...well..without an SSS they'll move.

  • Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Franchise relocation -- no more former WHA teams

    When the discusson of an NHL team relocating to Kansas City comes up, inevitably Hartford, Quebec City and Winnipeg enter the discussion. "Those teams moved, why wouldn't a current NHL team move?", one might say.

    Anyone that says that knows nothing about the history of the NHL and its cantakorous relationship with the former WHA.

    The WHA, from 1972 to 1979, was a legitimate threat to the NHL. It was not like the WFL or USFL in football. These teams were stocked full of talent, offered multi-million dollar salaries (unheard of at the time in the NHL) and did not recognize the reserve clause, which made the league very appealing to NHL stars like Bobby Hull and Rick Dudley (oh, how my heart broke when Rick Dudley left the Buffalo Sabres for the Cincinnati Stingers).

    The WHA also scouted internationally at a time when the NHL was made up of mostly Canadian and French-Canadian players.

    The multi-million dollar salaries were the biggest source of contention. NHL owners weren't ready to offer that kind of money to Canadian farm boys.

    For the first several years, the NHL owners did nothing...assuming the WHA would fold. When it didn't fold, merger negotations began.

    In 1979, the NHL absorbed four of the remaining six teams (buying out the other two).

    The old guard NHL owners never wanted to be in Hartford, Quebec City and Winnipeg in the first place. After each former WHA franchise was sold, the NHL didn't stand in the way of moves to Raleigh, Denver and Phoenix -- expanding the NHL's US footprint and washing the league of WHA remnants.

    The 27 cities that comprise the current NHL were all hand-picked markets. The NHL chose to go into Columbus, Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Anaheim, Nashville, St. Paul and Ottawa through recent expansion. Other markets were considered at the time each expansion franchise was chosen, including Oklahoma City.

    These cities were strategically chosen and the NHL won't quickly abandon them like they did the cities that came to the NHL through a rival league.

    You see...bringing up the relocation of former WHA cities is not relevant when discussing the potential relocation of a current team to KC.

    The most recent franchise move that is relevant is the Minnesota North Stars to Dallas. That move appeased both a greedy owner and a league that wanted to enter a burgeoning metro area, Dallas-Fort Worth. And, in the end, the NHL realized the error of not having a team in the one of its best U.S. metro areas and gave Minneapolis-St. Paul another opportunity to get into the NHL.

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    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.
    www.sportsencyclopedia.com

    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 NHL’s 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.

    The conclusion
    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

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    KC -- the high school boy of cities

    I started thinking about this situation with KC, AEG, NHL or NBA and the Kansas City Wizards.

    Indulge me for a sec.

    Kansas City is acting like a high school boy. Let's call him K.C.

    The NHL and NBA are like the hot, aloof girls in class.

    K.C. continues to pursue the hot girls, who show no interest in him. All the while, the nice-looking, intelligent girl, who has shown interest in K.C., waits in the corner to be noticed.

    The nice-looking, intelligent girl represents Kansas City Wizards.

    The KCStar is K.C.'s best friend, another high school boy. Instead of telling his best friend, "hey, this nice-looking, intelligent girl really wants a relationship with you, maybe you should forget about the hot girls", the Star is doing what most high school boys' best friends do. They are saying, "yeah, yeah, they're hot...go after them." Even though he has no shot at these girls.

    In time, the nice-looking, intelligent girl begins to lose interest. Wondering why she was even interested in the first place, the nice-looking, intelligent girl starts looking for other boys to date. She strikes up a conversation with a new boy, let's call him Phil A. Delphia.

    Eventually, the dumb high school boy, KC, realizes the nice-looking, intelligent girl is worth his time.

    It's too late. She's already dating a smarter, better-looking guy, Phil.

    And the dumb high school boy is left with nothing.

    The time to keep the Wizards in town is now. Kansas City should enlist the help of, oh I don't know, AEG perhaps.

    AEG operates MLS teams and the unbelievably successful Home Depot Center. I have a friend that toured the facility and called me that day to say, "this place is awesome."

    A Soccer-specific stadium, with an MLS tennant, surrounded by fields for youth/high school soccer and lacrosse is what this city needs. It's a sure fire money maker.

    Someone get it done.

    Before these articles come true.

    Is MLS headed to the area?

    Soccer could find a comfortable niche in this region

    KC Star quotes Kevin Bacon -- says "Remain calm. All is well!"

    Too early to panic for KC’s pro interests

    Well, I commend Randy Covitz for actually givng voice to this story.
    It is the most ignored story in Kansas City sports. However, I find some things in this article strange.

    All those fretting about Kansas City’s chances to attract an NHL or NBA team as an anchor tenant for the Sprint Center need to relax.

    Who is fretting? Fans?

    No, all you hear around here is about who will back up Larry Johnson and who is going to play left tackle.
    It’s too soon to panic. Yes, it looks as if Pittsburgh will retain the Penguins, and Oklahoma City is the future destination of the Seattle SuperSonics, but there will be other franchises looking to move in October 2007.

    Lock this one in the vault. I'll be sure to bring this up again when it does or doesn't happen.

    But you can’t expect an NBA or NHL team, no matter how bad their arena situation is, to start talking about a move in 2007 when there are tickets to sell and a season to play this fall. The Kings, already owned by Sacramento interests, didn’t officially announce plans to move from Kansas City until late January 1985.


    Sure, but the Kings did stop TRYING to sell season tickets long before the beginning of the 1985 season? Yes, they did.

    Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group, which invested $50 million in the Sprint Center and will manage the facility, is well-connected in both leagues and has the ear of each commissioner.

    "There are clearly candidates that have not been made public yet," said Michael Roth, vice president/communications for AEG.


    Boy, I just think this is really bad PR. Spreading unsubstantiated rumors and speculation is no way to deal with the media.

    I'm going to guess the question was, "Are there relocation candidates other than the Sonics and Penguins?"

    How about a little honesty? Would that be so bad?

    Mr. Roth could have simply said, "No, not at this time. We believe there will be within the next few months."

    Instead of this silly "not been made public yet." You know what, as far as I'm concerned and I hope other KC sports fans agree, until they are public -- they are NOT candidates for relocation.

    Since Roth said that, perhaps the Star should devote some resources to finding out who these "not been made public" franchises are. That is what a newspaper does, isn't it? Investigate stories...I could be wrong.


    The ideal situation would be if someone with deep pockets in Kansas City stepped up and bought a troubled franchise and moved it here, the way Oklahoma City interests bought the Sonics, instead of having to convince an out-of-towner to move a club.

    "That’s not impossible," Mayor Kay Barnes said Tuesday. "That may be part of the equation."


    With all due respect Ms. Mayor, how about finding someone to purchase the Wizards and keep them here, first?

    They're a great asset to our city. It would be a shame if we lost them to Philadelphia.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    A new twist -- Penguins to Toronto?

    Here's a new twist. A Web site, Howard Bloom's Sports Business News, suggests David and Sam Fingold may move the Penguins to Toronto and not Kansas City.

    Of course, the article is wrought with errors and silly consiracy theories.


    A so called Plan-B to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh was floated two weeks ago.


    Plan B wasn't floated "two weeks ago". Governor of Philadelphia, err, Pennsylvania Ed Rendell's press conference about Plan B was in March.


    It’s been clear from the beginning, the only casino bidding group committed to building a new arena is Isle of Capri.


    Um, no. The two other casino bidders, Harrah's/Forest City and Don Barden's NorthStar have agreed to the Plan B funding plan.


    Sam Fingold may be based in Hartford, but he grew up in Toronto. His father and brother are based in Toronto. And the fourth member of the group, Michael Cohl, is also based in Toronto. In Cohl, Fingold has a partner who is recognized as one of the world’s leading concert/entertainment promoters. Cohl is currently managing Rolling Stones world tour and is putting together the upcoming Who world tour.

    Consider this scenario and the Penguins could be headed for Toronto, not Kansas City if the arena deal falls through in Pittsburgh. Fingold’s group could offer Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) $100 million in territorial rights to move the franchise into the Air Canada Centre, the current home of the Maple Leafs and the Raptors.


    While we're coming up with ridiculous conspiracy theories, how about this one...

    Sam Fingold owns Kenyon Investments, a real estate investment firm. Kansas City is building the new Power & Light District to go along with the new Sprint Center. Perhaps the Mayor has offered Fingold some kind of sweetheart financial arrangement that if he brings the Penguins to KC he will also have right of first refusal to develop a portion of the Power & Light District.

    Then, Fingold would have a hockey team, a new arena, and 42 dates of foot traffic to his real esate development in downtown KC.

    There. Two silly consipracy theories in two silly Internet postings.

    Neither have any grain of truth.

    Can we just wait to see if Fingold negotiates a lease for the Plan B funded arena...