U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Sports > Hockey
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 08-03-2011, 04:36 AM
 
2,402 posts, read 3,593,183 times
Reputation: 1266

Advertisements

As a former Thrashers fan, I can tell you that very few were even aware that the franchise was in trouble until it was nearly too late. This is because the sale of the Thrashers wasn't possible until last December due to contractual and legal obligations.

If you were like me, you only began to notice problems with attendance starting around January or February, namely for weekday games. This was the time when the public was being let in on the fact that Atlanta Spirit was looking to sell the team, and when much of the incompetency of Atlanta Spirit was coming to light. Of course, when a city realizes that its ownership is terrible, who has no interest in the team, you're going to find more apathy.

Up until early last season, you could expect a decent draw to the vast majority of Thrashers games. During most years of their existence, they outdrew the Hawks. That is, the arena looked mostly full. There might be a couple thousand empty seats, but the arena was at at least eighty percent capacity most of the time. During their lone playoff season, there were a number of sellouts.

The difference I noticed from the early years of the franchise (1999-2005) under Time Warner, and just shortly after Atlanta Spirit acquired the team, compared to just up to the present was easily noticeable. Under Time-Warner ownership, you saw billboards all over the city talking about "BlueLand". Under Atlanta Spirit, you never saw that, exceptions being one billboard on the downtown connector (I-75/I-85). I'm not saying that they didn't exist in other parts of the metropolitan area, but you rarely saw it. In fact, I don't remember any outside of the midtown/downtown area. How many hockey franchises do you think are that horrible when it comes to advertising? On the other hand, Atlanta Spirit seemed to have no problem spending dollars on advertising for the Hawks, as I'd see billboards all over the metro area.

People, if you honestly think that hockey can exist in markets like Nashville and Raleigh, but not Atlanta, then you are seriously deceived. Metro Atlanta has about 5.5 million people. The Nashville area has about 1.5 million, and the Raleigh-Durham has a similar population to Nashville. The Atlanta metro area has about as many transplants as those other metros have people. The difference, though? Their owners advertised. Their owners were active in the community. Their teams win, with Carolina winning a Stanley Cup. The Thrashers had mediocre or losing season, one after another, with the exception of the 2006-2007 season. The Thrashers had no playoff wins and only one post season appearance.

With

-Virtually no advertising.
-Very Little Community involvement by ownership.
-An ownership that thought of the Thrashers as a "side" to their acquisition of the Hawks and Philips arena, and who very well had the intent to sell the Thrashers once they were legally able.
-Gary Bettman who needed the cash for a re-location fee to help keep the league financially stable for a few years. In fact, the Thrashers weren't TrueNorthSports target, it was Phoenix, the original Winnipeg franchise. Only because Phoenix muncipal leaders forked over the cash to support the team did Atlanta become a target starting around the end of the season. Why? Atlanta was the only other franchise in which the owners were looking to sell.
-Short time frame for the sale of the Thrashers. The Thrashers were up for sale for a few months. Most franchises are given at least a year, or more, to find local ownership. Phoenix was given over a year before the city decided to cough up cash. Why? It was Bettman's decision to relocate the Jets to Phoenix, and by allowing TrueNorthSports to acquire them, sooner than they acquired the Thrashers, it would have looked bad on him, since he was one who was in favor of the move. The Thrashers were a release valve on Bettman.
-Mediocre or Losing Season, one after another, with no post season wins in one lone playoff appearance in the team's existence.

With that said, the Thrashers generated average/fair attendance for most of their existence, outselling the Hawks most seasons.

Those of you who say, "well, Atlanta's not a hockey city", are correct in saying it's not a traditional hockey market, but you are very incorrect in your assumption that hockey can't do well in this market, given its size and dynamics.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 08-03-2011, 06:18 AM
 
Location: Long Island,New York
8,163 posts, read 13,230,427 times
Reputation: 2489
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfre81 View Post
This is an incongruous statement, as you are assuming the failure of one franchise as representing the wholesale, indisputable failure of the sport in a city, then turn right around and suggest another city that lost its team get one again.

What's that? Hartford is a better hockey market? Possibly, but in the end they couldn't manage the public support to get themselves a new building - in a much more prosperous time economically than today - which they legitimately needed to compete with the rest of the league. 15 years later, nothing new.

If it was all about geography, then why are the Islanders and Devils kicking it with Phoenix around the bottom of the attendance rankings? Sure, the Islanders have been weak and they play in an outmoded arena, which makes them essentially the same as the Whalers in their final years in Hartford. And I've wondered if New Jersey has been hurt the recent rule changes that have more or less targeted the Devils specifically. Either way, it shows that location isn't everything.

For that matter, going back to Canadian teams, Ottawa was no overnight success when the Senators came back around in 1992. Everyone in Ottawa was either a Leafs or Habs fan, the Sens had an unstable ownership situation and the team itself was godawful those first three or four seasons. Building that fanbase was a gradual process, but two decades later it's there and they're a success story.
I'm originally from NYC and my family moved to Long Island when I was a kid. Most of the fan base on the island is actually Ranger fans. The ones that are Islander fans, love the team but realize without a new building, most top notch free agents will avoid this very young team playing in that crappy old building. Honestly, a new owner like Prokhorov(NJ Nets owner) who flashes blank checks would probably be a good start for the Isles. If we overpay for some talent, others will probably follow and that would increase ticket sales, win total, and would make a stronger case for a new coliseum.
Atlanta has had a few hockey franchises but the other sports seem to be a much better draw for the area. That's why others might deserve another chance like Hartford. Long Island is so close to Conn. that we constantly have visitors from there and I have heard talk by many about a new hockey team and the demand for one.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-03-2011, 03:44 PM
 
2,402 posts, read 3,593,183 times
Reputation: 1266
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancet71 View Post
I'm originally from NYC and my family moved to Long Island when I was a kid. Most of the fan base on the island is actually Ranger fans. The ones that are Islander fans, love the team but realize without a new building, most top notch free agents will avoid this very young team playing in that crappy old building. Honestly, a new owner like Prokhorov(NJ Nets owner) who flashes blank checks would probably be a good start for the Isles. If we overpay for some talent, others will probably follow and that would increase ticket sales, win total, and would make a stronger case for a new coliseum.
Atlanta has had a few hockey franchises but the other sports seem to be a much better draw for the area. That's why others might deserve another chance like Hartford. Long Island is so close to Conn. that we constantly have visitors from there and I have heard talk by many about a new hockey team and the demand for one.

Atlanta's problem was ownership.

Atlanta had an IHL (AAA) hockey team from 1992-1996, known as the Atlanta Knights, that won the Turner Cup and of which outdrew the Hawks on many occasions. The only reason the Knights left was because they had nowhere to play, being that the Omni Coliseum was torn down to allow for the building of Philips Arena and the arrival of the new NHL team, the Thrashers. Atlanta had one of the highest, if not the highest, IHL attendances, in a league that featured many other big cities, such as Houston (Aeros), Chicago (Wolves), Detroit (Vipers), San Diego (Gulls), Cincinnati (Cyclones), Cleveland (Lumberjacks), Milwaukee (Admirals), Kansas City (Blades), Orlando (Solar Bears), and Denver (Grizzlies; prior to Avalanche).

Currently, the Atlanta area has an ECHL team (AA), the Gwinnett Gladiators, which plays in the northeastern suburbs. It is one of the top attendance franchises, and it supports the community. The Gladiators are very involved in the area. You continuously see the Gladiators get involved in the youth around the city. One thing is true, you do see a higher percentage of children at Gladiators games than Thrashers.

Third, the Thrashers haven't had poor attendance most of the Thrashers existence. In fact, the Thrashers have had better attendance during many years that teams like Chicago and New Jersey.


‪Atlanta Thrasher's Move To Winnipeg Could Be Worth $60M to Owners‬‏ - YouTube

Fourth, with a winning team and the arena located on the northside of the city, where most of the hockey fans live, you'd have had sellouts every game. Many people didn't want to go downtown to see a game due to the perception that it is dangerous.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-05-2011, 05:05 PM
 
Location: Lethbridge, AB
1,132 posts, read 1,659,611 times
Reputation: 974
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfre81 View Post
Dallas took a dive in attendance last year and still outdrew New Jersey, Colorado, Columbus and the New York Islanders. Carolina and Tampa Bay drew comparable to Edmonton last year, and the Hurricanes weren't even very good last year.

Atlanta indeed is not that great of a sports town. Neither is Miami, unless it's the Dolphins or The U.
You make a valid point, but a comparison between Edmonton and Tampa Bay/Carolina doesn't really work. Edmonton's capacity is less than 16,000. It's a tiny building, and they've sold out every game for the past decade (with an abominable team, no less). If Rexall Place was expanded to average NHL capacity, the Oilers would have no trouble drawing capacity crowds in it. Tampa Bay and Carolina both draw less than sell out crowds regularly.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-05-2011, 05:22 PM
 
Location: Here
1,701 posts, read 1,503,497 times
Reputation: 1332
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stubblejumper View Post
You make a valid point, but a comparison between Edmonton and Tampa Bay/Carolina doesn't really work. Edmonton's capacity is less than 16,000. It's a tiny building, and they've sold out every game for the past decade (with an abominable team, no less). If Rexall Place was expanded to average NHL capacity, the Oilers would have no trouble drawing capacity crowds in it. Tampa Bay and Carolina both draw less than sell out crowds regularly.
Wow, this is an old thread, but what the heck...

Southern cities are tough sells for the NHL. No tradition, and the kids can't very well learn to skate on the local pond in January. The pond isn't frozen. So the sport cannot very well take root. Football has peewee football. Atlanta does not have a suitable demographic either. The city is mostly black. I'm in Columbus and am a Blue Jackets fan. Their problem is that they have stunk from day-1 until the last day of last season. Ten years of stinkdom.They had a following for a few years but that has evaporated with mismanagement. People have given up.

Unlike all but one or two NFL teams, NHL teams, and their respective cities have to have something going in their favor to find success. They just can't move into Houston or San Diego and figure the cities support NFL teams therefore they will support NHL teams. ESPN doesn't even bother with the NHL.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-05-2011, 08:06 PM
 
3,806 posts, read 5,222,177 times
Reputation: 3294
Quote:
Originally Posted by GalileoSmith View Post
Their problem is that they have stunk from day-1 until the last day of last season. Ten years of stinkdom.They had a following for a few years but that has evaporated with mismanagement. People have given up.

Unlike all but one or two NFL teams, NHL teams, and their respective cities have to have something going in their favor to find success. They just can't move into Houston or San Diego and figure the cities support NFL teams therefore they will support NHL teams. ESPN doesn't even bother with the NHL.
That seems to be a grim harbinger for the NHL and hockey's fate if it is true. There are teams in other leagues whose fans largely relish the chronic ineptitude of their team (maybe not the NFL, but it is set up so it is pretty hard for a team to be inept for more than a few years at a time). Sure they'd like their team to be better, but they don't just give up because the team and its owners are perpetually inadequate. Meanwhile, in this topic we see repeated examples of NHL teams where the fans in fact have given up on the local team. One wonders how long things can proceed in this manner before a large percentage of viable markets are removed from this game of musical chairs.

I started this as a joke topic pointing out that each of Atlanta's NHL franchises have left for Canada, but it seems to have become somewhat enlightening.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-06-2011, 08:26 AM
 
2,402 posts, read 3,593,183 times
Reputation: 1266
Quote:
Originally Posted by GalileoSmith View Post
Wow, this is an old thread, but what the heck...

Southern cities are tough sells for the NHL. No tradition, and the kids can't very well learn to skate on the local pond in January. The pond isn't frozen. So the sport cannot very well take root. Football has peewee football. Atlanta does not have a suitable demographic either. The city is mostly black. I'm in Columbus and am a Blue Jackets fan. Their problem is that they have stunk from day-1 until the last day of last season. Ten years of stinkdom.They had a following for a few years but that has evaporated with mismanagement. People have given up.
The actual city is 60% black, or so, but the metro area has a white majority, with about 3 million whites of the 5.5 million metro population.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-06-2011, 08:29 AM
 
2,402 posts, read 3,593,183 times
Reputation: 1266
Quote:
Originally Posted by AuburnAL View Post
That seems to be a grim harbinger for the NHL and hockey's fate if it is true. There are teams in other leagues whose fans largely relish the chronic ineptitude of their team (maybe not the NFL, but it is set up so it is pretty hard for a team to be inept for more than a few years at a time). Sure they'd like their team to be better, but they don't just give up because the team and its owners are perpetually inadequate. Meanwhile, in this topic we see repeated examples of NHL teams where the fans in fact have given up on the local team. One wonders how long things can proceed in this manner before a large percentage of viable markets are removed from this game of musical chairs.

I started this as a joke topic pointing out that each of Atlanta's NHL franchises have left for Canada, but it seems to have become somewhat enlightening.
Atlanta fans did not "give up" on the Thrashers until last season, when it was apparent that ownership did not care for this team. They also got rid of all the good talent, such as Hossa, Kovalchuk, and Savard.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-06-2011, 02:59 PM
 
Location: Here
1,701 posts, read 1,503,497 times
Reputation: 1332
Quote:
Originally Posted by AuburnAL View Post
That seems to be a grim harbinger for the NHL and hockey's fate if it is true. There are teams in other leagues whose fans largely relish the chronic ineptitude of their team (maybe not the NFL, but it is set up so it is pretty hard for a team to be inept for more than a few years at a time). Sure they'd like their team to be better, but they don't just give up because the team and its owners are perpetually inadequate. Meanwhile, in this topic we see repeated examples of NHL teams where the fans in fact have given up on the local team. One wonders how long things can proceed in this manner before a large percentage of viable markets are removed from this game of musical chairs.

I started this as a joke topic pointing out that each of Atlanta's NHL franchises have left for Canada, but it seems to have become somewhat enlightening.
First I will speak about the Blue Jackets. The team has never been good. Not a whiff of being decent. They made the playoffs as the 8th seed a few years ago and exited those playoffs in four straight loses. They may be the only NHL franchise current going to have never won a playoff game. And that's after ten years in the league. If a restaurant were run as poorly as the Blue Jackets franchise, that restaurant would go out of business within a year or two.
As for the rest of the league, most the the teams do stay in place. But I think an argument could be made that the league is too big for the popularity of the sport. Consequently a few franchises seem to always be on the move in pursuit of those hockey fans.
Also, I have a tough time seeing the NHL as a "major sports league". I think it's somewhere between the NBA and MLS (Major League Soccer). Soccer may one day catch them and the WNBA might even move up if a few good-looking babes make some rosters. The WNBA gets airtime on the prestigious (in the sports world) ESPN whereas the NHL has Versus, a second rate network that shows fishing programs and cage fighting. And the tough thing is, if I'm the NHL commissioner, I wouldn't know how to address the problem. And I think I know everything.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-08-2011, 06:35 AM
 
Location: Quincy, Mass. (near Boston)
2,181 posts, read 3,707,902 times
Reputation: 1748
Getting a bit off topic, but Columbus has had decent tv ratings, as I'm sure Galileo knows, about a 1.6 rating in recent years. That's with many away games in mountain & pacific time zones, making it hard for even diehards to watch 'til the end. Attendance was impressive the first five years.

The worst U.S. Markets, by comparison, get a 0.15 (Florida) to a 0.59 (Rangers). The Bruins finally hit 3.0 this past season; Celtics & Lakers both get under a 5.0 by comparison.

Columbus, like Phoenix, is worth nurturing but time is running out, no?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Sports > Hockey
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top