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The future of professional hockey in Glens Falls

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I decided to make this a new topic rather than keeping it intertwined with the Peoria thread where the discussion started.

 

In said Peoria topic, 518HockeyFan asserted that a deal to have the Rangers move from Hartford to Glens Falls had been all but done, but allegedly the Rangers wanted to buy the Glens Falls Civic Center from the city and make it a hockey-only arena, and this demand is what killed the deal.  The usual suspects poo-pooed the idea, but I wonder if there was something to it.  The story I had heard was that the city would retain ownership of the arena but offer the management contract to MSG as an incentive to land the AHL team.  Regardless, the concept of using control of the GFCC as a carrot seemed to be very much a factor.

 

I can see why the city would be reluctant to cut off all sources of revenue except for hockey.  The GFCC is, AFAIK, the biggest arena in the North Country, so the events that would normally go there would then either end up in Albany or bypass the area altogether.  Bob Belber, the GM of the Times Union Center, has often stated that while the Devils are the arena's anchor tenant, he makes more money from a single concert than from an entire season of Albany Devils hockey.  I don't know if the same is true in Glens Falls, and I doubt they get as many events as the TUC, but the point remains: there's a lot of money to be had from hosting non-hockey programming.

 

Now comes the latest news... well, actually, it's about a week old at this point, but I just stumbled across it yesterday and didn't realize it was old until I tracked down this Post-Star article.  It appears that the mayor is considering closing the Glens Falls Civic Center if a replacement for the Phantoms can't be found.

 

http://poststar.com/news/local/mayor-closing-civic-center-is-option/article_560045e8-9ca0-11e2-a93e-001a4bcf887a.html

 

This rather goes against my previous thought, doesn't it?  If the city thinks the arena can't make money without an anchor tenant (which, to be honest, is a reasonable concern), that puts quite a bit of urgency into the search for a professional sports team.  The article mentions maybe trying to attract a basketball team, but would they consider the ECHL?  And would the fans support it?  Or would it be like when Glens Falls had the UHL: the diehards went because it was hockey, but deep down everyone felt they deserved the AHL.

 

The problem is, it's not like you can just snap your fingers and conjure up an AHL franchise, not since the league achieved its manifest destiny of 30 teams.  You have to go after what little is available, and based on a combination of my notes and the rumor mill, there is indeed very little available in the next two offseasons.  ECHL franchises seem to be easier to come by, so Glens Falls may be forced to settle on that league if retaining professional hockey is an imperative.

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I decided to make this a new topic rather than keeping it intertwined with the Peoria thread where the discussion started.

 

In said Peoria topic, 518HockeyFan asserted that a deal to have the Rangers move from Hartford to Glens Falls had been all but done, but allegedly the Rangers wanted to buy the Glens Falls Civic Center from the city and make it a hockey-only arena, and this demand is what killed the deal.  The usual suspects poo-pooed the idea, but I wonder if there was something to it.  The story I had heard was that the city would retain ownership of the arena but offer the management contract to MSG as an incentive to land the AHL team.  Regardless, the concept of using control of the GFCC as a carrot seemed to be very much a factor.

 

I can see why the city would be reluctant to cut off all sources of revenue except for hockey.  The GFCC is, AFAIK, the biggest arena in the North Country, so the events that would normally go there would then either end up in Albany or bypass the area altogether.  Bob Belber, the GM of the Times Union Center, has often stated that while the Devils are the arena's anchor tenant, he makes more money from a single concert than from an entire season of Albany Devils hockey.  I don't know if the same is true in Glens Falls, and I doubt they get as many events as the TUC, but the point remains: there's a lot of money to be had from hosting non-hockey programming.

 

Now comes the latest news... well, actually, it's about a week old at this point, but I just stumbled across it yesterday and didn't realize it was old until I tracked down this Post-Star article.  It appears that the mayor is considering closing the Glens Falls Civic Center if a replacement for the Phantoms can't be found.

 

http://poststar.com/news/local/mayor-closing-civic-center-is-option/article_560045e8-9ca0-11e2-a93e-001a4bcf887a.html

 

This rather goes against my previous thought, doesn't it?  If the city thinks the arena can't make money without an anchor tenant (which, to be honest, is a reasonable concern), that puts quite a bit of urgency into the search for a professional sports team.  The article mentions maybe trying to attract a basketball team, but would they consider the ECHL?  And would the fans support it?  Or would it be like when Glens Falls had the UHL: the diehards went because it was hockey, but deep down everyone felt they deserved the AHL.

 

The problem is, it's not like you can just snap your fingers and conjure up an AHL franchise, not since the league achieved its manifest destiny of 30 teams.  You have to go after what little is available, and based on a combination of my notes and the rumor mill, there is indeed very little available in the next two offseasons.  ECHL franchises seem to be easier to come by, so Glens Falls may be forced to settle on that league if retaining professional hockey is an imperative.

 

Good question there, Rowdy...interesting one at that too. Sorry to see the Mayor of Glens Falls is considering closing the GFCC if they can't find a tenant to replace the Phantoms, it really is...I would really hope it doesn't come to that of course.....

 

WOULD they support an ECHL team? That, I'm not so sure because I really don't know a whole lot about the people up there, but I'm sure most know the ECHL is a step DOWN from the AHL, where it would take 2 steps to get to the NHL whereas the AHL it only takes one more step...I think the Phantoms draw pretty well considering, I would have to think a lesser team wouldn't do as well at the gate, but again, I really don't know...

 

I can remember when Allentown first floated the idea of landing a hockey franchise here back in 1999 and the UHL was mentioned and the UHL even promoted the Lehigh Valley Xtreme as a future franchise, but we all know how that worked out...again, like you said, many WOULD come to support it, but many more wouldn't because there was no guarantee that the players playing that you'd be supporting would ever see the light of day in the NHL, whereas with the Phantoms next fall and only being one step down from the NHL, fans know they WILL get there...if not for the sinkhole problem that prevented the arena from ever being built here years ago, maybe the Xtreme actually see the light of day, but I really don't think they would have lasted any longer than 2 or 3 years before folding...

 

Like you said, the ECHL may not be the best option available to Glens Falls, but at least it would be better than having NO team there...in my heart of hearts, I really want Glens Falls to land another AHL team because as I said previously, numerous AHL teams' leases in their respective cities will be up after this season or next season at the very latest...I'm sure the Brooks Group has sent feelers out to those teams in question and see if they would consider relocating to Glens Falls or not.  The fans up there deserve the best league available to them and that would be the AHL of course, but if nothing else could be found, as I said before, having an ECHL team there would be better than closing the place down for good I would think... ;)

Edited by LehighValleyPhantomsPhan

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Whose leases are up next season? Not to imply that any of those teams would be on the move, but that could be a starting point in this analysis. Although one has to consider that the teams with expiring leases might not be ones that are likely to relocate, either.

Another starting point might be to consider potential affiliates or affiliate/owners who would or would not place their prospects there.

The way I see it, there are a few teams that could step in to fill the void. However, it would require a number of pieces to fall into place. Essentially what Glens Falls needs, IMO, is an opportunity similar to the Utica-Calgary situation (provided that deal is finalized)

Edited by OdysseusMontezuma

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Whose leases are up next season? Not to imply that any of those teams would be on the move, but that could be a starting point in this analysis. Although one has to consider that the teams with expiring leases might not be ones that are likely to relocate, either.

Another starting point might be to consider potential affiliates or affiliate/owners who would or would not place their prospects there.

The way I see it, there are a few teams that could step in to fill the void. However, it would require a number of pieces to fall into place. Essentially what Glens Falls needs, IMO, is an opportunity similar to the Utica-Calgary situation (provided that deal is finalized)

I had heard, Odie, that a few teams' leases were up after this season, but I'm honestly not sure as to who those might be. What I am aware of is that the Phantoms' owners are looking into all avenues right now to find a replacement team once the Phantoms head south after next season....and true, some with expiring leases may not want to relocate and that's fine, just stick to the ones who are open to relocating where they're at now as an option...

Edited by LehighValleyPhantomsPhan

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Why would the rangers want the arena to be hockey only? Especially if they owned it. Why lose money when there is no reason to?

That's what I wonder, too. Why would they NOT want to take advantage of other events that are currently making their way to Glens Falls during the rest of the year? Why would they say, "You are only allowed to use this building for 30-something regular season games, plus playoffs if we make the cut. Leave the building dark the rest of the year"?

For that matter, why would the mayor want to close the building outright if there's not a hockey team in it? When I was up there, they had multiple ads for concerts and other events that were slated to come to the GFCC. So as far as I could tell, the building was not particularly lacking in events. (Though I suppose a visit to the GFCC's official website would give an idea of what's on their schedule NOW, compared to three years ago when I was up there.)

The only reason I can imagine why an arena would close would be that the Cordish Company wants to build a strip mall there the building needs heavy-duty structural work and they can't afford to fix it without bringing in a lot of money from events. This is entirely MY speculation, not some info that I'm gleaning from news articles or from inside sources (of which I have none). But having seen this happen with JFK Stadium and Veterans Stadium, it makes me wonder what's going on with that strange arena-closure rumor.

Edited by Gabey8

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Whose leases are up next season? Not to imply that any of those teams would be on the move, but that could be a starting point in this analysis. Although one has to consider that the teams with expiring leases might not be ones that are likely to relocate, either.

I was thinking the same thing, Odie.  As far as I know, nobody's lease is set to conclude at the end of the 2013-14 season (with the exception of Adirondack, of course).  Hartford had been in that category, but they extended their lease back in February.  I will say, though, that I don't have information on every single team, so there could be some other teams considering their options, but as you said, they may not be likely relocation candidates, either.

 

The way I see it, there are a few teams that could step in to fill the void. However, it would require a number of pieces to fall into place. Essentially what Glens Falls needs, IMO, is an opportunity similar to the Utica-Calgary situation (provided that deal is finalized)

Honestly, what Glens Falls needs is for the Utica deal to fall apart.  I know that sounds harsh, but that's the reality of the 30-team AHL.  You can't get a new team in town without some other city losing out.

 

 

For that matter, why would the mayor want to close the building outright if there's not a hockey team in it? When I was up there, they had multiple ads for concerts and other events that were slated to come to the GFCC. So as far as I could tell, the building was not particularly lacking in events. (Though I suppose a visit to the GFCC's official website would give an idea of what's on their schedule NOW, compared to three years ago when I was up there.)

The only reason I can imagine why an arena would close would be that the Cordish Company wants to build a strip mall there the building needs heavy-duty structural work and they can't afford to fix it without bringing in a lot of money from events. This is entirely MY speculation, not some info that I'm gleaning from news articles or from inside sources (of which I have none). But having seen this happen with JFK Stadium and Veterans Stadium, it makes me wonder what's going on with that strange arena-closure rumor.

It's a combination of work needed and plain old operating costs.  In the article I posted, the mayor essentially claimed that the city will not be able to afford to keep the arena open without a professional sports team as an anchor tenant.

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I agree, Rowdy, that Calgary would have been a good option for Glens Falls had Utica not beat them to it. And if Calgary is indeed looking to join LA, San Jose, Tampa Bay, and the northeastern teams in placing their affiliate in the low cost historic AHL area, then you might think that Adirondack may have dropped the ball in luring them there. After all, with Glens Falls and Utica being equal in travel and relatively equal in market size (if you give Saratoga County to them), you might say that GF should win out because their facility is in much better shape. But it appears that the wild card here is Esche. Utica has a champion to spearhead the effort, while Glens Falls apparently does not.

I have to say...silly seasons of late have been quiet. This is good because it means we have a stable league with stable markets. Since the last big shakeups ending in 2009, the only markets lost have been Lowell, whose departure was expected, and Winnipeg, who lost their AHL team for the best reason imaginable. So, given a stable league, that does not bode well for new markets...or for old markets looking for a replacement team.

However, I will also propose that Utica's impending success could alternatively boost Adirondack's chances. The franchises of the AHL are being pulled in all different directions nowadays. One of those directions is northeast, where travel times and expenses are reduced. And so the idea becomes that, perhaps, more teams might consider jumping on this bandwagon, and Glens Falls is one place that is ready to receive if that trend continues.

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There is no validity to the rumor that Rangers and the city ever had a deal.  I have a family firend that is in the Ranger organization and I mentioned this to him the other night and it made him laugh.  There are also a  few obvious reasons why this carries no weight.  1) Mayor admitts a few phone conversations and nothing more.  2) Selling the GFCC would make financial sense for the city.  It loses money every year and would become a taxable building.  The one thing that has not come out is who the "other" team the mayor had talked to.  Could this be Minnesota?

 

A bit of background on the mayor of GF (don't mean to offend anyone although I am sure I will), he was the former custodian of the local school.  He might be a nice guy but lacks the knowledge to run the city.  It is showing more and more.  Problem being that not many qualified people want to run for local office anymore.

 

Many people here will not support a lower level hockey, although I can argue we have had an ECHL team here for the past four seasons.  Issue here is the team the UHL brought here in its first year.  It was a bad product and even worse team.  Many people that watched the IceHawks play never came back until the River Rats played a few home games here.

 

My guess is that the GFCC goes dark for a few years and maybe the city will get an AHL team when the NHL expands in a few years.  Yes, expansion in the NHL is coming.

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This may be the stupidest question ever, but if the GFCC closes and sits vacant for a few years, how will it be in any shape to be re-opened?  One can assume that if the city doesn't want to pay to keep it open, they'd be reluctant to make the investment in properly put it in mothballs.

 

One bright spot to a possible NHL expansion (which, to be honest, I'll have to see to believe):  Maybe the Whaler Whiners will finally succeed in getting the NHL back in Hartford.  And maybe I'll become the Queen of England.

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Odie, that's a good point about the directions the league is headed in.  I know it's unproductive to engage in this type of speculation, but what effect will the seemingly-imminent departure of Houston have on San Antonio, Austin, and OKC?  And even though Vancouver's takeover of Abbotsford should result in better attendance out there (one would hope), their status as an extreme outlier will dog them in the rumor mill for as long as said status exists.  It's definitely premature to say this, but we may be witnessing the beginning of the final contraction of the AHL back to its traditional regions.

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There is no validity to the rumor that Rangers and the city ever had a deal.  I have a family firend that is in the Ranger organization and I mentioned this to him the other night and it made him laugh.  There are also a  few obvious reasons why this carries no weight.  1) Mayor admitts a few phone conversations and nothing more.  2) Selling the GFCC would make financial sense for the city.  It loses money every year and would become a taxable building.  The one thing that has not come out is who the "other" team the mayor had talked to.  Could this be Minnesota?

 

A bit of background on the mayor of GF (don't mean to offend anyone although I am sure I will), he was the former custodian of the local school.  He might be a nice guy but lacks the knowledge to run the city.  It is showing more and more.  Problem being that not many qualified people want to run for local office anymore.

 

Many people here will not support a lower level hockey, although I can argue we have had an ECHL team here for the past four seasons.  Issue here is the team the UHL brought here in its first year.  It was a bad product and even worse team.  Many people that watched the IceHawks play never came back until the River Rats played a few home games here.

 

My guess is that the GFCC goes dark for a few years and maybe the city will get an AHL team when the NHL expands in a few years.  Yes, expansion in the NHL is coming.

I could definitely agree with your thinking here, Al...and MORE expansion in the NHL? Jeez Louise, the league is big enough for chrissakes and there are markets already that it clearly isn't working in and hasn't for years, so why the heck would they make a bad situation worse by ADDING more teams? The common sense solution would be to DOWNSIZE, not UPGRADE...

 

And I know this has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but how in the blue heck does Bettman STILL have a job in the NHL? Three freaking lockouts and his hide is STILL employed? Scratching my head on THAT one...he over-expanded the first time, future expansion will certainly NOT help things.... :wacko:

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This may be the stupidest question ever, but if the GFCC closes and sits vacant for a few years, how will it be in any shape to be re-opened?  One can assume that if the city doesn't want to pay to keep it open, they'd be reluctant to make the investment in properly put it in mothballs.

 

One bright spot to a possible NHL expansion (which, to be honest, I'll have to see to believe):  Maybe the Whaler Whiners will finally succeed in getting the NHL back in Hartford.  And maybe I'll become the Queen of England.

Good question you ask there, Rowdy, because I've often wondered the very same thing myself...not sure how that could possibly be pulled off, but I guess we'll see......

 

As far as possible NHL expansion in the future, I'm with you there as well because I'd have to see it to believe it myself...if any league DOES NOT need to expand, it's most certainly the NHL.  I think in the 90's, they over expanded and placed teams in Florida, of which, only one is seemingly popular (Tampa Bay)...Atlanta clearly never worked and because they couldn't find a local investor interested in keeping them, they shipped back up to Winnipeg to be the current version of the Jets....

 

Outside of the one season the Panthers went to the Finals, only to lose to Colorado, I really don't think they've done a whole lot of good, I honestly don't and THEY would be my first pick to be shipped back up north to Canada if things don't work out down there...maybe they could potentially be the team that gets placed in Quebec City as the current version of the Nordiques, which I'd honestly like to see back again...I don't think Hamilton gets a team, I honestly don't see it...nor do I see Toronto getting a 2nd team either....since the Leafs are playing much better again, I see really no reason to add a 2nd team in that city when one does just fine...Hartford, I COULD see getting another team back to replace the Whalers, but things would have to all fall in place before that could happen I'd have to think...

Edited by LehighValleyPhantomsPhan

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Yes, expansion!

 

Three markets jump out: 

 

Quebec City:  They will have a new barn, soon.  The Canadian and American dollar being the same value, makes Canadian franchises more viable.

 

Seattle:  Another spot with a new barn.  NHL wants to add some teams in the Northwest.  Many believe Phoenix could end up here.

 

Markham (sp?):  Toronto can support another team.  Many do not realize how much NHL hockey runs in that city.  Town is far enough outside of Toronto to make this franchise viable. 

 

This would bring the NHL to 32 teams, like NFL and would lead to the need of two more AHL franchises.  Fees for expanision and relocation are not included in the 50/50 split between league and players.  This could be an easy 500 million to split amongst the owners.   

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This may be the stupidest question ever, but if the GFCC closes and sits vacant for a few years, how will it be in any shape to be re-opened?  One can assume that if the city doesn't want to pay to keep it open, they'd be reluctant to make the investment in properly put it in mothballs.

 

One bright spot to a possible NHL expansion (which, to be honest, I'll have to see to believe):  Maybe the Whaler Whiners will finally succeed in getting the NHL back in Hartford.  And maybe I'll become the Queen of England.

 

Not in their current building they won't... 0% chance.

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This may be the stupidest question ever, but if the GFCC closes and sits vacant for a few years, how will it be in any shape to be re-opened?  One can assume that if the city doesn't want to pay to keep it open, they'd be reluctant to make the investment in properly put it in mothballs.

 

One bright spot to a possible NHL expansion (which, to be honest, I'll have to see to believe):  Maybe the Whaler Whiners will finally succeed in getting the NHL back in Hartford.  And maybe I'll become the Queen of England.

 

Not in their current building they won't... 0% chance.

 

You couldn't possibly have thought he was serious.  :D

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My guess is that the GFCC goes dark for a few years and maybe the city will get an AHL team when the NHL expands in a few years.  Yes, expansion in the NHL is coming.

 

This may be the stupidest question ever, but if the GFCC closes and sits vacant for a few years, how will it be in any shape to be re-opened?  One can assume that if the city doesn't want to pay to keep it open, they'd be reluctant to make the investment in properly put it in mothballs.

You beat me to it. If the GFCC goes dark, unless they continue to maintain it, it's highly likely be in worse shape when they turn the lights back on than it was when they went on hiatus.

If they're going to have to spend money maintaining the building, they might as well continue to have events coming in to generate at least some income. Otherwise, the alternative is removing the arena and putting something else in its place, and I seriously doubt that the region wants to see THAT happen.

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Interesting article in the Post-Star today about the GFCC.  Even if they close it, there would be debt to be paid.  Sounds like they could never close it.

 

http://poststar.com/news/local/debt-through-the-roof-at-civic-center/article_6e7c274c-a257-11e2-a2a0-0019bb2963f4.html

 

There is another local paper, The Chronicle, it is a free paper that comes out weekly and they ran with the idea of closing or selling the GFCC also.  Wish they had a website, but the majority of the article talked about how the city could never sell the building.  The money to demolish, lack of parking, and the single use of the building make it almost impossible to sell.

 

Hockey fills 35+ plus nights, but there are also the New York State Championships of Basketball and volleyball, and numerous high school events that occur at the GFCC.  If the buidling was to close, it would be a major blow to the local economy and local sports scene.  One night during the State Basketball tournament over 6,000 people watched one night.  Only sits 5,400 for hoops.

Edited by AlJensen

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Going dark in relation to professional hockey.  They will still operate the building and hold many of the other events.  Last time they ranted and raved about the money they saved by keeping the ice a few degrees warmer.

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Odie, that's a good point about the directions the league is headed in. I know it's unproductive to engage in this type of speculation, but what effect will the seemingly-imminent departure of Houston have on San Antonio, Austin, and OKC? And even though Vancouver's takeover of Abbotsford should result in better attendance out there (one would hope), their status as an extreme outlier will dog them in the rumor mill for as long as said status exists. It's definitely premature to say this, but we may be witnessing the beginning of the final contraction of the AHL back to its traditional regions.

Good questions.

I think if Houston's departure has an effect on any team in the league, it would be Oklahoma City. That is just because their attendance numbers are a tad alarming for a team that has frequent flights and virtually no bus trips. Were they playing in a shoebox in the Northeast, their numbers would not be anything to worry about (assuming, of course, that they had a sound business model). Another factor, however, may be a potential 'pull' factor on the horizon. Word on the street is that there are five or six teams looking to defect from the CHL to the ECHL. Most likely, these are Allen, Tulsa, Wichita, Missouri, Rapid City, and someone else. A solid ECHL presence in the area might make OKC look for a revival of the bright days of the Blazers.

On the other hand, San Antonio and Texas would feel Houston's void somewhat, but I think their support and their ownership situations would enable them to weather the storm. After all, Houston dangled out there all by their lonesome during the IHL years, and then San Antonio and the Aeros just had each other for seven seasons. As long as ownership is stable, they should be fine.

In fact, I think the outlook that the Houston situation creates is not so much pointed at teams in its region; rather, it is a message to consider the fate of teams who play second or even third fiddle in their home venues. Not to imply that this will become a trend rather than an isolated incident, but what we are seeing is a successful team in a huge venue being brushed aside for apparently more lucrative opportunities. It could happen again in similar markets. This makes a move to Iowa a little perplexing as the arena there is host to NBA D-League and arena football, alongside a host of special events. The return of hockey might tip the scales in the wrong direction, especially if they turn out to not draw well.

On to Abbotsford. They definitely will be one to watch as well. As far as I know, Vancouver is to be assuming the remainder of the sweetheart lease from Calgary. That means the city will be paying for any losses from the team for the next six years. We will see if they decide to re-up in 2019 just because they have the Canucks, and what the Canucks decide to do should the city shy away from another subsidy.

Now, about the return of the league to its modern (1977-1996) roots, I am not so sure that is a plan of the league so much as a byproduct of various teams' intentions. This coupled with the end of the sprawl economy that peaked in the 1990s and ended five years ago. The northeastern markets are simply the beneficiaries of complex economic factors...ones where low-risk sustainability is now favored over high-risk growth potential. And this works out for places such as Utica and Glens Falls, where an AHL team can be a primary tenant in a small building and survive on a modest fan base. Add to this that the Northeast is running out of markets to place teams in, and the potential for Glens Falls to be considered gets better.

Time will tell, though, if these stars actually align right for Adirondack.

Edited by OdysseusMontezuma

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Going dark in relation to professional hockey.  They will still operate the building and hold many of the other events.  Last time they ranted and raved about the money they saved by keeping the ice a few degrees warmer.

Okay, that makes much more sense. And they probably wouldn't have to put ice in to begin with, unless high school hockey is played there or they host public skating.

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Odie, that's a good point about the directions the league is headed in. I know it's unproductive to engage in this type of speculation, but what effect will the seemingly-imminent departure of Houston have on San Antonio, Austin, and OKC? And even though Vancouver's takeover of Abbotsford should result in better attendance out there (one would hope), their status as an extreme outlier will dog them in the rumor mill for as long as said status exists. It's definitely premature to say this, but we may be witnessing the beginning of the final contraction of the AHL back to its traditional regions.

Good questions.

I think if Houston's departure has an effect on any team in the league, it would be Oklahoma City. That is just because their attendance numbers are a tad alarming for a team that has frequent flights and virtually no bus trips. Were they playing in a shoebox in the Northeast, their numbers would not be anything to worry about (assuming, of course, that they had a sound business model). Another factor, however, may be a potential 'pull' factor on the horizon. Word on the street is that there are five or six teams looking to defect from the CHL to the ECHL. Most likely, these are Allen, Tulsa, Wichita, Missouri, Rapid City, and someone else. A solid ECHL presence in the area might make OKC look for a revival of the bright days of the Blazers.

On the other hand, San Antonio and Texas would feel Houston's void somewhat, but I think their support and their ownership situations would enable them to weather the storm. After all, Houston dangled out there all by their lonesome during the IHL years, and then San Antonio and the Aeros just had each other for seven seasons. As long as ownership is stable, they should be fine.

In fact, I think the outlook that the Houston situation creates is not so much pointed at teams in its region; rather, it is a message to consider the fate of teams who play second or even third fiddle in their home venues. Not to imply that this will become a trend rather than an isolated incident, but what we are seeing is a successful team in a huge venue being brushed aside for apparently more lucrative opportunities. It could happen again in similar markets. This makes a move to Iowa a little perplexing as the arena there is host to NBA D-League and arena football, alongside a host of special events. The return of hockey might tip the scales in the wrong direction, especially if they turn out to not draw well.

On to Abbotsford. They definitely will be one to watch as well. As far as I know, Vancouver is to be assuming the remainder of the sweetheart lease from Calgary. That means the city will be paying for any losses from the team for the next six years. We will see if they decide to re-up in 2019 just because they have the Canucks, and what the Canucks decide to do should the city shy away from another subsidy.

Now, about the return of the league to its modern (1977-1996) roots, I am not so sure that is a plan of the league so much as a byproduct of various teams' intentions. This coupled with the end of the sprawl economy that peaked in the 1990s and ended five years ago. The northeastern markets are simply the beneficiaries of complex economic factors...ones where low-risk sustainability is now favored over high-risk growth potential. And this works out for places such as Utica and Glens Falls, where an AHL team can be a primary tenant in a small building and survive on a modest fan base. Add to this that the Northeast is running out of markets to place teams in, and the potential for Glens Falls to be considered gets better.

Time will tell, though, if these stars actually align right for Adirondack.

Not exactly. There were IHL teams in SLC, Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix (about 1000 miles each), as well as LA / SD, KC (650 air miles) and Atlanta (700 air miles). No near neighbors, but they weren't an Abbotsford style outpost either, which is 1700 miles from Milwaukee and 2500 miles or so from the East. BTW, it is 910 air miles from Milwaukee to Boston to give you a comparison.

 

The Bucks will probably move out of Milwaukee in 5 years or so if a new arena isn't built, or major work isn't done on the Bradley Center. That would leave the Admirals as the #1 tenant and Marquette basketball as the #2 tenant.

Edited by adsfan

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Odie, that's a good point about the directions the league is headed in.  I know it's unproductive to engage in this type of speculation, but what effect will the seemingly-imminent departure of Houston have on San Antonio, Austin, and OKC?  And even though Vancouver's takeover of Abbotsford should result in better attendance out there (one would hope), their status as an extreme outlier will dog them in the rumor mill for as long as said status exists.  It's definitely premature to say this, but we may be witnessing the beginning of the final contraction of the AHL back to its traditional regions.

 

Maybe. The #2, 4, 9 and 14 teams in AHL attendance were the old IHL teams, the last time I checked.

 

Three teams in a pod are enough to survive for a few years. Four or five are better.

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Just running with the "moving east" idea as a concept - how many places are really open?  Richmond has an arena (and Norfolk could use a close rival); I can't imagine anyone going into Baltimore unless they get a new building; Atlantic City's open, and the Devils seem to like going there (though I'm not sure they could pull it off full time).

 

What might make for an interesting move is if several teams returned to the midwest cities they abandoned some years back.  Cincinnati, Lexington, Louisville all hosted AHL hockey, and I'd love to see them come back. 

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