Having AHL/ECHL teams in "satellite cities" near NHL parent teams

Discussion in 'The Business of Hockey' started by krudmonk, Nov 23, 2006.

  1. krudmonk

    krudmonk Registered User

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    Would this significantly increase interest around the solid core fanbases in NHL markets? For example, if the San Jose AHL affiliate played in Sacramento with their ECHL team [already] in Fresno, would this do much to broaden the Sharks/Sharks/Falcons fanbase over a greater part of Northern California? From what I see, many minor league teams are not all that stable and many have short-term arena deals. I think this could be phased in over the period of several years. I understand that a lot of these teams are pretty centrally located in the east right now and so many would have to be spread out, but I think the success of the NHL parent teams is most important overall.

    I'm just throwing this out for discussion, right off the top of my head. I'm interested to see what other people can point out as possible ups and downs to this, or how feasible it really is.
     
  2. Tokyo Bucks

    Tokyo Bucks Registered User

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    The Toronto-Philly situation eh. Not sure what kind of effects that'd have on non-traditional hockey markets.
     
  3. Hoss

    Hoss Registered User

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    Vancouvers ECHL is now just a ferry ride away, of course it would help if the Salmon Kings didn't suck! ;)
     
  4. hwkn

    hwkn Registered User

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    The Blackhawks are looking into moving their AHL affilate to Rockford[70 miles from Chicago]from Norfolk btw.
     
  5. StevenintheATL

    StevenintheATL Registered User

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    The Thrashers' ECHL affiliate, the Gwinnett Gladiators, do pretty well in terms of drawing fans. There have been times when the Thrashers and the Glads have had home games on the same night and both teams have had close to full houses. What makes the Glads attractive to fans is the cost. A family of four could afford to go to multiple Glads games as they what they would pay for four tickets to see the Glads play would probably buy one or two tickets to a Thrashers game. It also gives Thrashers fans hockey on nights when the Thrashers aren't playing. The fan base that the Glads are drawing on includes areas where folks would be less likely to go to a Thrashers game due to the distance from downtown Atlanta. Someone in say Athens, Winder, Jefferson, or Gainesville would be more willing to drive to the Arena @ Gwinnett Center than down to Atlanta or even to the Doraville MARTA station. Even the Glads' radio broadcast is on a station out of Gainesville. I live on the southside of town and have yet to go to a Glads game, mainly because of the traffic I'd have to fight to go up to Duluth.

    What probably helped solidify the Gladiators was the lockout. Fans desperate for hockey went to see the games.
     
  6. Holly Gunning

    Holly Gunning Registered User

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  7. Hasbro

    Hasbro Can He Skate?! Sponsor

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    The Avs made some noise about getting an AHL affiliate in the west. During the lockout the used the CHL Colorado Eagles for loaners. As of this year nepotism won out as Eric Lacroix owned Arizona Sundogs (Prescott) are the AA team.

    They practicaly use the WCHA as a minor league. They've drafted and signed players out of the University of Denver.
     
  8. Big McLargehuge

    Big McLargehuge Registered User

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    Pittsburgh has done it in part to prevent an existing fanbase from leaving(Wheeling has been an affiliate for quite a while now...it's almost never used by the Penguins as an actual farm team but kept around to keep Wheeling and the West Virginia area interested in the Penguins in the advent of the Blue Jackets existence) and to create a new fanbase(Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and the surrounding areas are generally Philadelphian sports areas...except when it comes to hockey now. I go to school in central PA and while almost every baseball fan roots for the Phillies(Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is the Phillies top affiliate) and football about 60/40 in tilt to the Steelers from my observations, the hockey tilt is almost all Penguins thanks to the WBS Penguins).

    It helps that it's close(though not necessarily closer than most Penguin affiliates...our last full-time affiliate, the Cleveland Lumberjacks, were considerably closer than Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) but more importantly it creates interest in the team, and as a result money for the team(the Pittsburgh/WBS marriage would be useless if the Penguins didn't own the team).


    Putting a minor league team in a major league city doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me...but certain teams, like Toronto, can pull it off. Toronto has a fanbase that isn't going to need much help staying interested. It definitely gets bonus points for being so close to the major league team...a call-up can take a matter of minutes rather than a matter of hours, but it's not creating, or sustaining fan interest. Philadelphia may not be struggling for doing so, but the fact there are three AHL affiliates in eastern Pennsylvania certainly doesn't help them. Hershey is still largely Philadelphia territory...Colorado was too far away for most fans to be "real" Avalanche fans and Washington has only been a presence for a short time...it shouldn't take long for Hershey/Harrisburg to turn into Capitals territory but northeastern PA has turned into almost strict Penguins haven. The Phantoms aren't doing anything to improve interest in the Flyers...they serve their purpose as a minor league affiliate and nothing more.


    Placement of affiliates now is just as important as the team itself. Pittsburgh definitely has won out by being one of the first in the new wave of affiliate placements. They bought an expansion franchise and put them in a non-traditional market across the state in an area close enough to have a quick call-up(though Wilkes-Barre is still quite a drive from Pittsburgh, it's a very short plane ride) but in placing it their they capitalized in a previously unrealized market...turning passive Flyer fans into furious Penguins fans.

    Can't say the effect would have been the same in a closer and more traditional market, like Cleveland(the Lumberjacks proved useless...as have the seemingly endless parade of franchises and affiliations that go through that city) or Erie(larger than WBS...but have never been able to support a higher level of hockey than the Otters or Mercyhurst).
     
  9. GKJ

    GKJ Global Moderator

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    The Flyers and their affilliates are within 40 miles of each other
     
  10. sticknrink

    sticknrink Registered User

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    I wish the Canucks would setup an AHL team in Surrey and move away from Manitoba.

    That way the entire chain is in BC, NHL in Vancouver, AHL in Surrey, ECHL in Victoria.
     
  11. GKJ

    GKJ Global Moderator

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    The AHL would never want to have an AHL team so far away from the other 26 teams. They dealt with it during the lockout in Edmonton, but look at the way the Leafs were handled in St. John's
     
  12. Jazz

    Jazz Registered User

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    Now that's an interesting idea... :eek:
     
  13. Prussian_Blue

    Prussian_Blue Registered User

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    You beat me to it... I was going to mention that. Dave Eminian had quite a bit to say about it in the Peoria Journal-Star a few days back...

    I think it's a great idea. Do the Hawks have a ECHL affiliate of any kind? If not, I think a case could be made for purchasing the Bloomington (IL) Prairie Thunder and moving them to the ECHL.

    Start a kid in Bloomington, move him up I-39 to Rockford, then down I-90 to Chicago when he's ready. And the player development staff has their entire pro development system all within a two-hour drive of any location.

    The Blues already have their AHL club in Peoria, and rumours continue to swirl that an ECHL franchise will be placed in the Family Arena in St. Charles for next season, replacing the now-defunct UHL Missouri River Otters as the prime tenant there. This puts the Blues' entire pro development system all in proximity to the parent club as well.

    Losing Bloomington, which has been moderately successful as an expansion UHL franchise thus far, would probably put the final nail in the coffin of the UHL, but that's business. There's a place for leagues like the UHL, but development and a baseball-style farm system for NHL teams is really the wave of the future, I think.

    P_B
     
  14. endlessdream83

    endlessdream83 Registered User

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    Surrey is WAY too close (and let's face it, in the minds of practically EVERYONE around here, except maybe some Surrey residents, it's part and parcel of Vancouver) to justify even having an ECHL team... not to mention none of the arenas in Surrey are 'pro-hockey' ready, unless I'm missing something!
    More likely, Surrey COULD get a minor pro team one day, but it would probably just be called 'Vancouver' anyway.
     
  15. USF Shark

    USF Shark Zôion politikòn

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    It was basically tried and failed in the Bay Area about 10 years ago with the San Francisco Spiders (Ozo played for them during the first lock-out) who I believe were part of the ECHL (correct me if i'm wrong please...) and they folded quickly....

    HOWEVER, The Stockton Thunder are selling out every game and have set a record for attendance....and while they're not technically in the Bay Area they are only two hours away.
     
  16. CHRDANHUTCH

    CHRDANHUTCH Registered User

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    the Blues selected Worcester Halfway through the Ice Cats inaugural season but kept Peoria in the ECHL once that franchise left the then struggling IHL, WHO KNOWS IF Peoria had stayed in the I, WOULD there be a team in Peoria not due to a move or a sale since the Blues basically killed the Worcester market---at least San Jose knows how to operate a franchise or sees fit how to run one.

    I don't believe Rockford will survive the transition from UHL to AHL Since ALL references to the Hawks were removed from the Metrocentre---Chicago needs to buy an existing franchise to move there----their current affiliate is not for sale & isn't going anywhere.
     
  17. geezette

    geezette Registered User

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    The SF Spiders were an IHL team. They were on same talent level as the AHL. They just didn't draw well.
     
  18. AdmiralPred

    AdmiralPred Registered User

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    Geography may play an increasing role in where a parent club "places" its affiliate. But, not all NHL teams own their affiliates and thus haven't the control to "place" their affiliate. In the case of San Jose their affiliate is moving from Cleveland to Worcester simply because the Sharks, who own their AHL team, see the reduced travel costs appealing. Sharks fans don't get to see, first hand, their prospects develope, but the Sharks organization deems the reduced travel costs an important part of maintaining their own affiliate.

    Others are just in good situations such as the MilAds and the Preds and the BJs with Syracuse.

    Since Vancouver doesn't own the Moose, I don't see them being able to move them closer. As to the AHL moving west, I would think that there would need to be at least a six team migration for it to be feasable with travel costs and such the way they are. This would also further break up the AHL schedule.
     
  19. Kevin Forbes

    Kevin Forbes Registered User

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    The Ducks switched affiliates from Cincinnati to Portland for a number of reasons, but one of them was definitely because the Portland area is much closer to the AHL "core" and therefore offered reduced travel costs. Although this move placed the team farther away from Anaheim, it placed it closer to the majority of the rest of the AHL, which was preferred.

    This is interesting for a second reason as well: The Ducks formerly had an ECHL affiliation with San Diego and now are associated with Augusta. Despite the numerous ECHL teams in the California area, the Ducks again chose a team close to the rest of the ECHL "core".

    Finally, on the flip side of the coin, here's an article on the agreement between the Florida Panthers and the Florida Everblades:
    http://echl.com/cgi-bin/mpublic.cgi?action=show_news&cat=1&id=9272
     
  20. Prussian_Blue

    Prussian_Blue Registered User

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    In the first place, Peoria would not have stayed in the IHL because the IHL itself took the big dirt nap. Peoria stayed in the IHL, and the Blues kept Peoria as their top affiliate, right up to the day that the IHL folded. Only then did the Blues have to look for another "AAA" affiliate, because Peoria's owners -- who were, and always were until recently, independent from the Blues -- made the decision to move their franchise to the ECHL instead of seeking AHL membership at the time, due to geographic consderations.

    It wasn't until the AHL started taking in Midwestern cities like Grand Rapids, Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha, etc., that it made sense for Peoria to get into the AHL.

    The statement about the Blues "killing" the Worcester market, and the implication that they don't know how to run a franchise, is just ridiculous, and doesn't warrant a reply.

    There is at least one dormant AHL franchise that I'm aware of that could be purchased and planted in Rockford, so that's not an issue

    What, exactly, are you talking about that all references to the Hawks were removed from the Metro Center? There were never any references to the Hawks at the Big Orange Box to begin with, since the IceHogs have never been affiliated with the Blackhawks in any way.

    Rockford is a good hockey market; they consistently drew in the high threes for what was, until two seasons ago, a decidedly inferior brand of hockey with a pretty lousy team. The Steve Martinson era in Rockford has coincided with the team having their best success on the ice, and the crowds are up to the low fours on average because of it... which would put a Rockford club solidly in the middle of AHL attendance figues despite having a smaller population base (approximately 250,000 in the Rockford SMSA) to draw from than most AHL franchises.

    P_B
     
  21. Majik1987

    Majik1987 I know kung fu...

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    You should read the whole paragraph if you are going to quote something. They aren't removing the references to the Hawks from the MetroCentre. They removed them from the County board resolution that passed 26-0. Not only did they remove the Hawks from the resolution, but any mention of hockey and the IceHogs. To quote the article...

     
  22. kdb209

    kdb209 Registered User

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    The Spiders were an independent, unaffiliated IHL team. They played in the Cow Palace (in Daly City, just south of SF, where the Sharks played for their first two seasons before the San Jose Arena opened) and lasted only one season ('95-'96). Sandis played two games for them (while holding out as an RFA) and IIRC scored the first goal in their brief franchise history.

    I was at that first Spiders game (and maybe two or three others that year) - It was a fun bit of nostalgia watching a game in the Palace of Fine Cows again. A bunch of other ex-Sharks played for the Spiders that year - Dale Craigwell, Robin Bawa, David Maley, Ed Courtenay, Mike Lalor, and even a short 3 game (and 37 PIM) appearance by the Missing Link.

    But the Spiders were a complete failure - there is not nearly enough hockey interest in the Bay Area to support a minor league team.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2006

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