Last night Howard Bloom of sportsbusinessnews.com reported via Twitter that Quebec City, Toronto, Seattle and Las Vegas would become NHL expansion teams by 2017. Bloom even included that expansion fees would total $1.4 billion.
The tweet spread like wildfire on the social network and was making it’s way to television within mere hours. A respected journalist with specific details on a topic that has been hot for a lengthy amount of time now was enough to get a lot of attention.
It’s no secret the NHL has been trying to situate plans for a team to come to Seattle for years now. Seattle’s rich tradition of junior hockey and the success of the Thunderbirds add to the reasons why an NHL team could flourish there. Not to mention the loss of the NBA’s SuperSonics in 2008 has sports fans longing for another professional organization.
Quebec City has also been a viable location for the National Hockey League for years now as well. Ever since the departure of the Nordiques in 1995 there has been a sour taste amongst QBC supporters and the calling for another chance with different organizational skills and leaders. On top of that, the dilemma in Arizona with the Coyotes has done nothing but spark that flame.
But Las Vegas and Toronto?
Las Vegas currently plays home to the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers. The team averaged 4,581 fans per game last regular season, which ranked 13th out of 22. Attendance isn’t great in a third tier league and in a city filled with tourists; there is little evidence to support Nevada’s most populated location being a good home to an NHL team. Did I mention all of the worries that come along with being the gambling fortress of the country?
And Toronto? Is this the new joke because the Leafs are THAT bad? Toronto finished 6th in attendance in the 2013-2014 season and consistently rank inside the Top 10 every year for well over a decade. Proving as loyal fans despite the disappointing play, another interesting point is that Toronto already plays host to an AHL team and has since 2005. The Marlies averaged just over 6,000 fans this past season with ranked them 9th. However, consistency has not been the case with the minor league team. Although numbers have been on the rise, the Marlies finished third last in attendance in 2008-2009 with nearly half of the total they finished with this year.
However, all of this is still a rumor at this point.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was quick to comment back on the situation telling French TVA sports, “It’s not in our plans,” and, “there’s absolutely nothing new on that.”
Obviously the NHL isn’t going to let a journalist break news of expansion, so there is no reason to expect Daly or Bettman to confirm Bloom’s tweet. If the NHL decides to expand, everything will be 100% set in stone before they have a groundbreaking press conference in which they will release all of the details.
It seems likely within the next five years the NHL will expand or at least have one relocation. But in the mean time, who’s not telling the truth?
Thanks for reading!