CommentarySports

Top 5: Cities that deserve an NHL expansion franchise

With the NHL hosting their annual GM meetings last week, league expansion was at the forefront of discussions once again. With Quebec City and Las Vegas submitting expansion bids, it looks as if we’re on the verge of the first NHL expansion since the year 2000. But which cities truly deserve a professional hockey franchise? And in which markets would they actually succeed?

5. Houston

As the largest American city without a hockey team, the league could use Houston to grow the game in the southern United States. An instate rivalry with the Dallas Stars could appeal to fans in Texas, who would have more than one team to choose from if the league expanded within the state.

The Toyota Centre is the current home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets and was used as an arena for the AHL’s Houston Aeros for nearly two decades. The infrastructure is there and so is the potential fan base, but the risk is still high given the limited success of other teams in non-traditional markets.

4. Hamilton

Hamilton has flirted with the idea of an NHL team before. There have been attempts to move the Predators, Penguins, and the Coyotes to the city from RIM business tycoon Jim Balsillie. These attempts for expansion show how eager Hamilton based groups are for an NHL team.

Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres could potentially block a team from moving to the city, stating that a team in the Hamilton would cut into their geographical fan base. On the other hand, a team so close to both Buffalo and Toronto could create an interesting rivalry between the three teams. As unlikely as it is for Hamilton to ever be awarded a team, it doesn’t mean they won’t try and buy whichever team declares bankruptcy next.

3. Seattle

It seems like the NHL was hopeful for Seattle to place an expansion bid. A Seattle team in addition to a potential Las Vegas squad could even out the conferences at 16 teams each. The problem lies in the fact that the main group that’s trying to get an arena built in Seattle can’t seem to reach an agreement with the city.

Seattle will likely get an arena built within several years, as the same group is trying to bring an NBA team back to the city as well. If the arena is built the league will probably keep close tabs on the possibility of a team in the pacific northwest.

2. Quebec City

Ever since the Nordiques moved to Colorado in 1995, Quebec City has been hoping for a possible return of NHL hockey to the city. With the success of a franchise returning to Winnipeg, the likelihood of the NHL returning to Quebec City has increased significantly. Winnipeg is not only a smaller market, but they also house the new version of the Jets in an even smaller building than the one Quebec City has available right now.

Nordiques fans have even been passionate enough to create their own form of protest towards the league. Hundreds of supporters have worn their powder blue jerseys and stormed different NHL games since the team departed for Colorado. In combination with the extremely passionate fan base and established infrastructure, a group representing Quebec City has already paid the non-refundable $500 million expansion fee. The city is clearly ready for the NHL to return.

1. Las Vegas

Las Vegas is truly an untested market for the league, with them not hosting a single team in any of the four major North American sports. However, the city has had hockey interest in the past, hosting the first ever outdoor game in 1991, and also hosts the league’s annual awards ceremony at the end of each season. A 20,000 seat arena is currently under construction in the city, and there is definite fan interest in bringing an NHL team to the entertainment capital of the world. A season ticket campaign was held in 2014 to gauge fan interest in a team, and 13,000 tickets were purchased over the course of a few months.

The interest for expansion to Vegas is there, the rink is being finished up, and the $500 million has been paid. The NHL could be the first of the major four leagues to take advantage of this potential market.

8 Comments

  1. “The Islanders are NOT going to move out of the area. Does anyone actually believe the NHL will allow a team to leave the biggest market in North America (even if they do play second fiddle to the Rangers, popularity-wise) and go a tiny market like Quebec or Hartford?”

    Apparently, you forgot Newark, New Jersey as well. And speaking of them, if the Islanders survive this ordeal, than I guarantee you that the Devils will be gone once Prudential becomes obsolete! That metroplex couldn’t even support THREE BASEBALL teams long term! What makes you think they can support 3 of a sport that’s less popular in that metroplex than basketball and football, let alone baseball?

    “As far as the other two, the Panthers have stable ownership who is pretty content to stay where they are, so I doubt it.”

    Seeing that those owners are just as stupid as Chris Cohan, I doubt they ever will make money down there. Once the losses become too much, then this team is screwed.

    “I think the guy who owns Arizona really wants to stay put, but if they can’t find a place to play in, he may not have a choice but to move.”

    If you are talking about LeBlanc, he’s out. Andrew Barroway will soon be the new owner of the Coyotes and only stupid retards would buy into his commitment to Arizona (especially when he has to deal with Glendale and Robert Sarver)…the same retards who bought into Robert Irsay’s commitment to Baltimore or Clay Bennett’s commitment to Seattle. Remember all those “the Thrashers are NOT relocating” garbage and then shortly after that, they ran off to Winnipeg? Same deal here.

    And let’s not forget about that sleazebag Hurricanes owner who stupidly relocated them to Raleigh to begin with. As long as he is the owner, I wouldn’t trust anything that scumbag says. The Hurricanes are in much more danger than the Panthers and Islanders right now!

    As for Calgary and Ottawa, those two do worry me seeing how the League pretty much gave up on Quebec City and Winnipeg very quickly the first time around. And Canada had financial problems back then like they do now! With that being said, I’ll give Calgary and Ottawa the benefit of the doubt and say that they got an 80% chance of surviving their ordeals. Of course, the Calgary situation isn’t being helped when you have idiots like Brian Burke in there, but I’m sure the fine politicians of Calgary will figure something out.

    Whether you like it or not, somebody is relocating within the next ten years! This League can’t prop every troubled franchise forever, somebody is going down very soon. Deal with it!

  2. Saskatoon, sasketchewan; a boring province where nothing goes on, everybody would kill for an NHL team

  3. You also forgot to mention Saskatoon and Portland, Oregon. Both seem to have NHL ready arenas.

  4. Milwaukee would be better than Seattle or Las Vegas and I like the idea of Toronto having another team ! Go Quebec !
    When will NHL take care of weak teams in NHL like Arizona and move them and they might many 4 more teams or do we get rid of weak teams in NHL ?

  5. a team in las vegas would be the worst. i can see it now.
    -no real fanbase as everyone who would go would be out of towners who get dirt cheap promotional ticket packets to see the team they actually like
    -terrible XFL quality name/jerseys
    -look at how well arizona has worked – now lets do that in a nearby smaller population centre
    -isn’t the talent pool diluted enough??

  6. Good article. Just one issue. The ownership groups in Vegas and Quebec have only paid the $10 million application fee, with only $2 million of that being non-refundable. No one in their right mind would pay out $500 million up front, especially if it was non-refundable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles