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Proposed expansion cities don’t make sense

By: Kevin Collins

nhl expansion

It was recently announced that the NHL is close to finishing off deals that would bring hockey teams to Las Vegas, Quebec City, and Toronto. Expansion in the NHL has made sense in the past with expansion teams like The Anaheim Ducks (founded 1993), Carolina Hurricanes (founded 1997), and Tampa Bay Lightning (founded 1992) all hoisting the Stanley cup in the past decade. The league’s popularity is at an all time high, and goals are being scored at a premium. The game has begun to focus more on play and fighting and this had led to increased action on the ice. But for now, these proposed expansions do not make sense.

Las Vegas: Nevada is the 36th most populated state and it is estimated that about only 1.8 million people actually live in Las Vegas. Unless the owners of the franchise could find a way to attract tourists by putting in slot machines next to each seat, it is much more likely that gamblers would watch the game on a big screen while playing blackjack than at the actual game. Logistically it does not make sense either. Las Vegas is the third least humid city in the United States behind only other Nevada cities. Granted, it is possible to manipulate humidity in an indoor arena, but if there are not many fans to begin with, budget problems might come quickly if the Air Conditioner system is needed at all times.

Quebec City: Nestled just north of Montreal, Quebec City would seem to be a perfect spot for an NHL team. But when the numbers are uncovered, it just does not make sense. Firstly, the team would be fighting with the Montreal Canadiens for fans and that is simply because they do not have nearly the population size of other Canadian cities. Much of Quebec is covered in forests, which would make a beautiful return from a commercial break if a team ever arrived there. But it does not make sense for fanship. Quebec City itself only holds about 500,000 residents. And as far as infrastructure is concerned, there is one major highway in and out of Quebec City, how could fans possibly be expected to arrive on time?

Toronto: Bringing a team to Toronto would really mean a third Toronto team, not a second. The Maple Leafs have their AHL affiliate also play in Toronto. To look at other cities with multiple teams, let us first go to New York City. With a population of 8.46 million, Manhattan has plenty of fans to fill seats (even if they have to go to New Jersey for some sports). Los Angeles has just under four million residents, and is also nestled in between other major cities. Toronto however hold 2.5 million people, and the nearest major city, Buffalo, NY is 102 miles away, and across a border.

An expansion team that might make sense is the return of the Hartford Whalers. Hartford had sell out crowds during their time as a franchise and, just an hour away, the AHL Providence Bruins are one of the most popular minor league teams as far as attendance goes.

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Kevin Collins

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One Response to “Proposed expansion cities don’t make sense”
  1. David says:

    What a great combination of lame arguments in just a few lines: You’re right about Las Vegas but you forget to mention that hockey in southern states has proven to be big failures (think of Panthers or Coyotes).

    Now, where did you pick the rest of your data? Quebec is not “just north of Montreal”, both cities are 150 miles apart. Quebec metro area has 700,000 inhabitants, is the 7th biggest metro area in Canada (ahead of Winnipeg, e.g.). Compare that with Hartford, which has 120,000 inhabitants. Actually, you can also look at a map and see three highways going in and out of Quebec, two of them going to Montreal. The potential owner (Quebecor) has signed a TV deal with the NHL, making it the official French-speaking broadcasting company. The brand new up-to-NHL-standards arena will be finished within a year, something Hartford has NOT.

    You also discard Toronto because it’s too small and already has several teams. I won’t mention that you forgot AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, but have you looked how many teams there are in a 150-mile radius around Hartford? There are 4 NHL teams (Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Bruins) and 5 AHL teams (not to mention that… Hartford has one). So, to sum it up, Hartford has a smaller population than Vegas, Quebec and Toronto. Hartford has more competition than Vegas, Quebec and Toronto. Hartford has no new arena, unlike Vegas and Quebec and you think it’s worth an expansion?

    Give me a break… and check your facts