It’s an unlikely occurrence, but it could still possibly happen. If you take a quick look back at history and Jim Balsillie’s numerous attempts to purchase failing franchises and relocate them to the Hamilton region, you can see there’s a small likelihood of this happening.
Shortly after True North Sports and Entertainment (TNSE) announced its intent to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers from the Atlanta Spirit Group, it went on a drive to 13,000. That is to say, sell 13,000 season tickets in attempt to demonstrate the community is entirely behind the relocation of the NHL to Winnipeg. Around the same time back in 2007, Balsillie partnered with Ticketmaster to accept deposits for season tickets to the Hamilton Predators – the then proposed name for a relocated team from Nashville.
In a single day they reportedly sold 7,200 tickets…which unfortunately blows the first day sales of Winnipeg out of the water with roughly only 4,000 sold. Of course there are other factors at play in the relocation of any franchise to Hamilton. There’s the proximity to the Buffalo Sabres, which have been quoted as not being opposed to an NHL franchise located in Hamilton. But there’s also the Toronto Maple Leafs. While the population base is definitely large enough to support the two franchises, there’s no way the Leafs would like a competitor in their backyard. Why?
Well it comes down to business. Dollars and cents. The Leafs are the highest generating revenue team in the entire league. That’s a good thing, considering that they’re one of the original six. It started back in the lockout days when the franchises were concerned about losing money. It was at that time that Bettman told the various ownership groups that the salary cap would allow them to make even more money and generate higher revenue. Of course, they all agreed.
So here we are, waiting on a group of guys to formally approve the transfer of ownership from Atlanta Spirit to TNSE and the relocation, which includes a $60 million relocation fee. It seems to be a formality at this point, but the transfer of ownership still requires a 75 percent approval from the Board. Shockingly, the relocation only needs majority approval. Logic would suggest that if 75 percent approve the transfer of ownership, at least the same amount will approve the move.
As a true Winnipeg fan, all I can do is sit and wait for the official word. And then we can really start to worry about the name
Edit 2011-06-21 12:42 CT:It’s official! NHL Board of Governors unanimously approves NHL return to Winnipeg
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