24 May 2007
This is also a good time to mention he tried to buy the Penguins and got rebuffed because he wouldn't guarantee that he wouldn't move the team to Canada (more specifically Ontario.) The Predators (and Florida Panthers) are also the teams most likely to move, so let's look at potential options of where a team could move.
♦ Ontario He's from Ontario so it seems logical that he'd try to move a team back here. The question is where? Hamilton? Toronto? The Toronto-Hamilton metro area has 6.141M people. That's smaller than: Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington DC/Baltimore. While Canadians love their hockey, is that enough to support 2 teams?
♦ Quebec City Ahh a replacement for the Nordiques. Quebec's metro Area has 717,000 people in it. Buffalo, NY has 1.25M. I think we know why Quebec City lost their team the first time around... it's too small to support a team.
♦ Winnipeg-While they are a bigger city than Quebec City... the metro area (a better indication) is smaller at just under 700k people. By the way that's about the same size as Akron, OH.
So I think the only possible Canadian option would be Toronto, but even that is pretty risky. I just don't think the city is quite big enough to support a second team. I think there are plenty of American Cities that can support a team though:
♦ Nashville I think they are staying put. First they need to go lower than 14k average attendance to break their lease. They averaged 15k+ last season. Second they need approval from the league, and I'm not so sure Bettman is ready to give up his southern expansion ideals just yet. He has seen successful franchises in Carolina, Tampa, and Phoenix, and the golden model of Southern Franchises.. the Dallas Stars. The Preds seem to be gaining some local support and I don't think Bettman is willing to give that up yet.
♦ Kansas CityBalsillie may be a Canadian, but he's a businessman too. K.C. has a great sports town, no winter competition and a sweet arena deal waiting to be gobbled up. Any team that wants to move, well this is the first location.
♦ Seattle If the Sonics move, this would be an ideal place for a hockey team. Near Canada, a great sports city, and it would have no winter host for its arena.
♦ Las Vegas being the first league to move here would be enough to make positive headlines and Bettman is a sucker for short-term positive headlines no matter the long term consequences.
♦ Chicago I don't think it would ever ever ever get approved, but if I were an owner looking for a great Hockey town I would try everything to move here. The locals are great hockey fans (~8k per game for a minor league team) and they are so fed up with the Wirtz's I think they would come out to the games just to spite the Wirtz's. They support 2 baseball teams in the summer, and have a huge metro area. It will never happen, but it should.
So in the end, I think it's either Nashville or KC for the Preds. Basillie may try to risk it in Canada, but I just don't think Canada has another metro area big enough to support a team.
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