In little over a month from now the NHL will be making news by announcing their decision on expansion. It would be shocking if Las Vegas is not named as a new franchise. The word that comes to mind for expansion to Quebec City is uncertainty. There is a lot of questions regarding Quebec, Carolina, Seattle and NHL.
Quebec, Carolina, Seattle & NHL Expansion Questions
The hockey fans of Quebec City are waiting with baited breath if they will be named as expansion franchise and rejoin the NHL for the 2017-18 season. There is no doubt that Quebec City is a city filled with hockey die-hards who would support the new Nordiques 24-7, twelve months a year. The potential Quebec franchise has a new state of the art building at the ready in the Centre Videotron.
However, questions arise for Quebec City regarding adding another team that has to deal with Canadian dollar issues. While Quebec City is a city full of rabid hockey fans, it is not the biggest of cities with a population a little over half a million.
Obviously the potential new ownership group has the financial backing to make it work as an NHL franchise over the next number of years. Remember they would be signing a $500 million US dollar expansion fee check. That’s nearly $650 million Canadian dollars. The NHL has to ask themselves in ten years time: would Quebec be a franchise on our short list of teams in financial trouble?
@VancouverGuero @NHL @whiskycast Please explain how Quebec is going to financially survive.
— Dana Lane (@DanaLaneSports) April 22, 2016
There are a lot of questions surrounding whether or not the Hurricanes will stay in Carolina. Peter Karmanos is selling the team. Attendance is also a huge problem for the Hurricanes. This past year, Carolina finished last in the league in attendance averaging 12,203 fans per game. Consider that four years ago the Hurricanes were drawing 17,558 per game, won the Cup ten years ago. Before this season, Forbes estimated the Hurricanes have been losing money for the past nine seasons. Based on this year’s attendance numbers, it’s safe to say that number hits ten.
Carolina has a lease through the 2023-24 season with the RBC Center. According to Karmanos the team has a favorable lease. At the end of March the NHL’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the Carolina Hurricanes are not going anywhere. Keep in mind in the past regarding relocation the NHL has said the Atlanta Thrashers weren’t going anywhere either and shortly after that statement they moved to Winnipeg.
Clearly, there are major issues in Carolina. Can this market support an NHL franchise? Would the league be better off with Carolina being in another market such as Quebec, Seattle or somewhere else? This summer may be critical for the Hurricanes future.
The new EA Sports NHL team gives the option to put the Canes in Quebec. Are they telling us something? https://t.co/H61KNaTdBU
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) May 2, 2016
The NHL coming to Seattle took a big hit this week. The Seattle City Council killed the sale of the street for the Sodo arena. Mayor Ed Murray said “Today’s council vote makes it less likely that the NBA will return to the city of Seattle”. Chris Hansen, the investor trying to bring a brand new arena and major sports back to Seattle, stated “needs to take a little time to step back and evaluate [their] options.” Hansen went on in further detail.
“Today’s city council vote was disappointing but we don’t believe it is the end of the road in our quest to bring the NBA and the NHL back to Seattle. We know all the fans who have stood solidly by us these past years share our disappointment but it is important that we all stay focused on our shared goal.”
There are a couple of other issues going on in terms of the NHL putting it’s flag in the city of Seattle. Between Hansen, the mayor, and many others, the primary focus is an NBA team. If Seattle builds an arena for an NBA team, it only makes sense to include an NHL franchise as well. There are many hurdles for professional hockey to come in Seattle. This is still years away from reality.
Make no mistake the NHL wants a franchise in Seattle. Seattle is the 13th largest US city, it’s in the top 15 of media markets and they currently have the nation’s hottest housing market. It would allow the league to grow the game in the Pacific Northwest. There is no doubt that the league would do everything it can to make Seattle a reality.
Over the next month, questions will get answers in terms of immediate plans for both Las Vegas and Quebec City. Quebec may not happen next month but could in the near future. Other questions include the future of Carolina survive and the possibility of a team in Seattle.