Eugene Upgrade (?)

Discussion in 'All other USA Amateur, USHL, NAHL, USNTDP etc.' started by PCSPounder, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    Eugene Generals - Eugene Generals

    The Rink Exchange is supposed to be able to seat 2,000 or so (not exactly great sightlines).

    So would the NAHL work there given the travel?

    Or what else would be considered an upgrade while the organization is still persona non grata with the WSHL?

    Or... is this the end of the line?

    (This note: in the minor pro board, mention has been made of an arena that's about to be constructed in Idaho Falls. This now has a corporate naming sponsor and pieces seem to be falling in place. The local media is saying "minor league hockey" will be part of the plan. Starting to think that "minor pro" may not be the real plan, et cetera, who the heck knows.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
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  2. SharksFan1978 Registered User

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    I've been very curious to see what was going to happen here in Eugene given how topsy-turvy things have been in recent years, what with the NPHL disbanding, Eugene going independent, the rink nearly shutting down several years ago, etc. I didn't know they were persona non-grata for the WSHL, I just figured they didn't want to join for some reason. I wonder if they're going to enter the NAHL in 2020, and I'll be very curious to see what they do to prepare for that if that is the case. They just announced they're not going to play this season in preparation for a jump toward something bigger, so that's going to be a bummer for the casual fan, especially in a market that barely knows the team exists anyway (longtime fan myself, so I know).

    My bigger question is: If it is the NAHL, does the NAHL have a Western Division-type expansion announcement coming up? Otherwise, it would seem we're playing the lone wolf out here again, and I don't know how we can sustain that. Back in the NPHL's heyday, the guys were drawing nearly 1,000 some nights between the rink and online viewers, but I imagine the numbers are down given how unusual Eugene's club approach has been (not by their own choosing, I suspect, at least not entirely), and how unstable the team's footprint has been ever since.

    I'm curious, PCSP, have you ever been to a game in Eugene? It sounds like you have.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  3. PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    I had made one game per year for several years. Not since the independent situation played out.

    The club's GM burned all possible bridges with WSHL teams... you might be able to find those details around the internet.

    So if you couple Eugene with Idaho Falls and the Alaska teams, I'm sure the rest of the NAHL will be grateful. However, no, that's not enough.

    The next part is a bit of a leap, especially by my standards. The WSHL has been losing teams, and has tried to "keep numbers" with a Canadian division that's really rather far north. Meanwhile, the Utah teams have been placed in the Northwest Division this year when they most certainly are better situated with the Colorado teams. As for that Northwest Division, Southern Oregon just got sold... they've had a solid fan base, though I'm obviously not so sure about now given how the sale went to practically the last minute. Bellingham is the strong club. Seattle and West Sound are barely making numbers. Bellingham and Southern Oregon going to the NAHL won't be optimal in terms of "arena size," and obviously some bridges have to be rebuilt for both to go back to USA Hockey. Thing is, Bellingham may be running out of alternatives. That's where the NAHL could make moves. If you get Bellingham, does Wenatchee get brought back, or are they content in the BCJHL? (For all I know, they're probably happy where they are now.)
     
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  4. SharksFan1978 Registered User

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    I've gone to exactly one game in the last 7 years, but prior to us having a kiddo, my wife and I went to what seemed like maybe a dozen of their games a year. Fun place, though I've always wondered about that 2,700 capacity limit they list. Of course they have all those stands along the right side of the rink that are forever collapsed inward (I've never seen them used for anything). Maybe if they also sold standing-room-only tickets for their lobby as well? At any rate, 2,700 seems on the high side.

    Interesting, I don't remember hearing about this. Huh. I wonder why the team went on a smear campaign like that.

    Yeah, that combination is definitely not sustainable, as teams are always talking about reducing costs and those places aren't exactly up the road from each other. It's hard to see something like that working without a couple of Washington teams and even one from the Portland area or so, rather like they did back in their NORPAC years, but even then those teams didn't always seem to be 100% on the level (the Southern Oregon Spartans, for example, were a train wreck as the Rogue Valley Wranglers for a couple seasons, then rebranded and suddenly became a powerhouse, and the West Sound Warriors were such a Jekyll-and-Hyde team--you never knew what you were going to get from them).

    I remember during their ill-fated USPHL season the Generals announced that a team would be starting up in Everett the following year, but of course that never happened. I think they might have even mentioned something about Wenatchee (but I'm a lot less sure about that). Given that those cities already have affiliations with other leagues, I doubt they'd be options, but maybe there's another couple cities or so out there which might be options and we just haven't heard about it yet? If you can sit there with Eugene, Idaho Falls, Bellingham, Wenatchee, the Alaska teams I guess, and even some place like Bend (just an example of a place with a rink in a large populated area), maybe you've got something. And with all the excitement about Seattle finally getting their NHL team, I wonder what this will do for the hockey landscape in Western Washington going forward. Could be that there will be options there in the future which currently do not exist.
     
  5. mk80 Registered User

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    The Eugene Generals are very pro USA Hockey which is why they haven't played in the WSHL despite fitting well with the league's geography. I work in the NA3HL, and the Generals played in the NA3HL Showcase (Eugene Generals - Generals To Participate In NA3HL Showcase) last year to fill in as part of the imbalance of teams, and just this past weekend as I was in Blaine MN working this year's NAHL showcase, I did see a Eugene Generals jacket in the scout room (but they were probably looking at the NAPHL teams for that portion of the showcase.

    Now to the speculation portion of my post: I've heard the NAHL wants to bolster it's presence out west and also help the Alaska teams a bit more. There was talk of Wasilla, AK being added for this season but nothing ever materialized and we saw the additions of Maine and New Mexico. The NAHL at one point did have Fresno, and Wenatchee although both were on islands and have since gone to the WSHL and BCHL respectively. It's not stretch to assume if Eugene moved into the NAHL, maybe Wenatchee would return, along with another couple new pacific northwest locations, or maybe a WSHL franchise might be looking to jump ship considering that league has been losing teams. Or a long shot but perhaps a couple Frontier division NA3HL teams would want to jump up, but that's a lot of miles between the locations.

    Perhaps the BCHL might also want to do something like the WHL and have some sort of American Division that Eugene and Wenatchee could be a part of, as Eugene to anywhere else in the BCHL is quite a haul.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
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  6. PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    I cannot emphasize enough how cool Bend would be... whether NAHL or a reconstituted NorPac or even the ECHL. Especially for those without kids... between winter sports and the natural setting and the resorts and the Bend Ale Trail, it's a trip. Not cheap, though.

    10 and 20 years ago, it was a pipe dream, an arena initiative was shot down, there was some enclosed rink that may have existed and failed... all before the more recent population surge.

    So I was about to say "they haven't built anything" without remembering that I passed by the thing in May. It's got a cover, but it's open-air, rather stylish, and not a 12-month ice plant. No seats. Furthermore, I'm not sure the locals wouldn't think you're defiling that facility by making the necessary changes. Doesn't mean it isn't possible. Maybe something else ought to be done. Something in conjunction with the amphitheater doesn't seem like a bad idea, and the way the Old Mill District has grown, it'd actually fit around there.
     
  7. mk80 Registered User

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    Can you elaborate on this? They have a covered outdoor sheet or a run down arena?
     
  8. SharksFan1978 Registered User

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    I might be wrong, but I think PCSP is referring to this...

    https://www.bendparksandrec.org/facility/the-pavilion/

    Check out the scrolling pics they have near the top about halfway through the list.
     
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  9. SharksFan1978 Registered User

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    So for someone like me who isn't in the know, how many teams do you suspect the NAHL teams would need in order to make a Western expansion viable? Are we thinking (for the sake of argument) six teams? Anything with less than that out here just doesn't seem to last that long. And do you think they would start with anywhere in the West at first to try and make sure they have enough teams, believing they could geographically realign teams more appropriately if/when more teams were ready to pop up in different areas (say you get five or six teams in California/Nevada and then six or so in the Northwest)? Or would they try to be regional from the start?
     
  10. mk80 Registered User

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    Well any league I'm sure would look at any credible ownership group stepping forward in a location to operate a team.

    For the sake of an NAHL expansion into the Pacific Northwest I'd say a good starting point would be Eugene, bring Wenatchee back into things, and add another Washington/ Oregon location, and probably pair them to start with Kenai River and Fairbanks plus another Alaska team. That would allow the Alaska teams to hit all 3 Washington/ Oregon teams say on a three week trip return home and vice versa.

    I'd say if it happens that's a good starting point, but who knows how many potential owners/ options there are. Is Wenatchee willing to come back and leave the BCHL or are they happy? Or perhaps the way to do it would be similar to the NAHL East division where they gone for a hybrid of the for profit NAHL ownership model and the USPHL model where a club powers the top tier team.
     
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  11. JKG33 Leafs & Kings

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    I played for Idaho in the WSHL, and they even closed up shop after being the most successful franchise during their tenure in the league. Fan support is so hit and miss. We packed the barn up in McCall, but I would say that had more to do with our success rather than the market. Butte (A horrible team) and Missoula (One of our biggest rivals) had huge followings and packed their arenas. From what I remember all the Washington and Oregon teams had good support too. Salt Lake City wasn't very impressive, neither was Ogden relative to their on ice success and beautiful arena. I was also disappointed in Colorado (Fort Collins), we played them in the finals and the rink was practically dead.

    I also had a cup of coffee so to speak in El Paso and I was shocked at the support they get. The WSHL is fairly low level hockey for a larger city like that, especially one right on the mexican border. I've heard OKC does well too.

    As for the quality of hockey, at the time Idaho, Colorado, OKC, Long Beach and maybe 1 or 2 others could easily compete in the NAHL. The problem with the WSHL was that the low end teams would likely get their asses kicked by mid level NA3 teams.

    The NAHL could quite easily ruin the WSHL if they really wanted to. Set up a new western division, El Paso could play with the other Texas teams and fit right in. Grab Ogden, a couple teams in the PNW, put a team in Boise, and if they had a new arena Montana would support a team too. Add a team or two in Colorado (Colorado Springs, maybe Aspen) and they're set.
     
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  12. PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    If you look at the rendering for the new practice complex for NHL Seattle that just posted this week, one of the rinks looks possible for NAHL.

    It's hard for me to see the Eugene talk and not connect that to Billings and Idaho Falls. You get those four, maybe then make a run at Wenatchee?

    The wildcard: if you're like me and speculate that "NHL Seattle does NOT lift all boats," and add the WHL/CHL issues about amateurism and the lawsuit (noting the American teams are not considered part of the suit), there's a cloud over the US Division in the WHL. At the least, imagine Tri-City in the NAHL. We're a long way from being able to cement that, and nobody seems to know a likely outcome for that, so it's tenuous as even speculation.
     
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  13. PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    So while I was making a visit to see my daughter in 2013, I take her up to McCall. Before we walk around for a while (quite a nice place without being Sun Valley swank), I go to the rink and ask to buy tickets for that night. The guy selling me the tickets acted like he had to finish the sale by telling me that the Valencia team the Junior Steelheads were playing that night actually had a good game against Idaho (once out of three times) the previous season down in California. As if I was hedging on buying or something. It wasn't a good crowd... maybe because of the success. Mind you, that's a town of 2,000 and it was October, so not quite winter yet. That exchange always struck me funny.

    I think the final was 10-1 or so that night.
     
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  14. PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    So Wenatchee, Friday night. I had fun going up minus the traffic, and let's never talk about Saturday, please.

    My semi-trained eye says 600. The official attendance was something like 2,100. The exaggeration is no surprise, and it's not like half the tickets were out when I looked online a couple days prior. Also, it's high school football season, and I know you don't even judge WHL teams until after the holidays (except some of the Portland promotions usually indicate good or bad cycle years... we're not too far away from Teddy Bear Toss night, folks). Also, Wenatchee did win the league a couple seasons ago. But would they be happier in an NAHL Northwest Division that had several franchises in driving distance? One indicator to me is that I paid less for a better ticket than I did back in January 2013. Not that costs would go down back in the NAHL.

    After being essentially laid out back at home for 24 hours, I did stumble back on a message sent late spring/early summer that I received about some interest made know in Eugene who sought to gather old warehouses and convert them into hockey-ready facilities "around the Northwest." Again, quite possibly a lone wolf with a dream and nothing more. Just saying I see signs pointing to an effort out here.
     
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  15. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    Is there any update to the situation here? Their Twitter account has been silent since the summer and there have been no rumblings of expansion from the NAHL. That is assuming the NAHL is what they meant when they said upgrading.
     
  16. PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    No.

    The type of rumor floating around suggests it won't be an immediate thing, either. One of the parts of the rumor involves conversion of multiple warehouses, which means we're not talking about 6 months to wind these things up into reality. Hopefully a short number of years, more realistic to expect a couple more.
     
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  17. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    Understood, certainly not surprising. The only way I saw them joining was if they had a number of other markets join over a short period of time like was seen with the East Division. And considering markets interested in joining are few and far between, it looked very unlikely.
     
  18. SharksFan1978 Registered User

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    Where have you seen/heard these rumors, if I may ask? Inquiring minds and all that jazz...

    Re: warehouses, are you referring to them having to do some sort of expansion/rebuild of The Rink Exchange, or something else (sorry if that's a ridiculous question)?
     
  19. kij Registered User

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    When we are talking about converting warehouses, are we talking about stripping out the entire interior and creating essentially a new rink with an old roof or are we talking about patching a bunch of junk into something that might resemble a rink if my glasses and contacts get lost in transit? This sounds a lot like a pipe dream to me.
     
  20. Nathan Johannsen Registered User

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    Any update on this? @PCSPounder? Things have seemingly gone completely quiet out of Eugene. Even I had heard the buzz for a few years about rink expansion/renovation, a preeminent move to the NAHL, etc., and that vague article they posted earlier this year obviously fanned those flames, but... here we are. I'm not close enough to get an on-the-ground perspective but I had been curious for awhile to see what would happen with them after they hung around following NORPAC's disbandment.
     
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  21. orhockey Registered User

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    They are indeed trying to move up to the NAHL. They should know by March whether that is happening for next season. Coach has been scouting with the assumption that there will be a NAHL team next year.
     
  22. SharksFan1978 Registered User

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    I've been watching this with a great level of curiosity. We don't seem like an NAHL market, honestly, but maybe TPTB are banking on increased interest/attendance the higher up the ranks we go, a la in soccer when teams like the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders go from drawing a few thousand as lower-league teams to considerably larger crowds as top-line professional sports teams (obviously the change in attendance in our case would not be similar from a numbers perspective, but more along the lines of the percentage increase itself).

    I've long wondered at the "2,700-seat capacity" info I've seen bandied about online because even in their NORPAC heyday when they were near the top of the league I feel like I've made seen/read about them hitting even one-third of that maybe two or three times? I've heard way back in the day when they were the Thunder that could draw 1,000+, but that was before my time, so I have no idea about the veracity of such numbers, but still.

    The NAHL's definitely a bigger, better ballgame, so I wonder what kinds of plans we have in mind should we actually get selected to join the NAHL, not to mention what kinds of plans the NAHL might have for us with respect to any additions/upgrades they expect the Generals to make to their arena, etc.

    I continue to be fascinated by what's going on (or may be going on, or may not be going on) with the Generals, and I , for one, definitely hope some kind of clarity is provided soon because I'd love to start hitting up some of their games again at some point, provided we still have a team (or, more likely, a league to partake in)!
     
  23. SharksFan1978 Registered User

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    Yeah, I've been waiting to see whether PCSP has any more info on things. I'm in Eugene and not connected to the team/media, but it's crickets here. Maybe that's for the best, but still. :)
     
  24. Nathan Johannsen Registered User

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    Bummer. I hope something positive happens on that front. I'm sure the NHL in Seattle might have some trickle down effects throughout the Northwest when it happens, but it's been discouraging to see junior hockey essentially become nonexistent in the PNW (save for the WSHL, which might as well not even count with how ridiculous that joke of a 'Tier II" league is). @SharksFan1978 do you skate at that rink or frequent it often? And @orhockey sounds like you've got an ear to the ground, eh?
     
  25. SharksFan1978 Registered User

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    I've actually never skated (outside of a handful of visits to a local rink in California when I was in high school ages ago and just used the normal figure skates they give everybody), and haven't been to the rink much the last seven or eight years, maybe a couple times. My wife and I went to Generals games pretty regularly before we had kids, but it's been a while. I think the last time I was there was probably 3 or 4 years ago?
     

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