Potential for an AHL team?
I received this comment on one of my previous posts
Before I respond, full disclosure -- I am a HUGE fan of AHL-level hockey and believe IT is the best product for our market. I believe the NHL could be successful, but the AHL is a better fit, especially considering the potential rivalries with teams in Chicago, Omaha and Des Moines.
Yea, could you focus some of your excellent coverage on the likelihood of bringing an AHL franchise to KC? What franchises are for sale? What franchises are struggling? Who could be eyeing KC? Is it even feasible so long as Paul McGannon has his heart set on the NHL?
I'd be more than happy to address this topic. Let me take the questions one at a time.
Yea, could you focus some of your excellent coverage on the likelihood of bringing an AHL franchise to KC?
As long as the Penguins arena situation is in limbo, and it will be until the Pittsburgh slots license is awarded late this year, I don't believe there will be movement toward bringing an AHL team to KC. It seems AEG wants to completely exhaust the possibility of luring the Penguins before negotiating a lease with a current AHL franchise owner.
AEG already owns an AHL team, the Manchester Monarchs. An AHL owner cannot own two franchises in the league, so there is no chance AEG purchases an AHL team for Sprint Center.
This "dual ownership" rule was the downfall of Kansas City professional hockey. When the AHL absorbed the former IHL teams, the Kansas City Blades were owned by Grand Rapids native Rich DeVos, who also owned the Grand Rapids Griffons and the arena in which the Griffons play, Van Ardel Arena. He chose, to no ones surprise, to retain the team in his home town. The Blades folded along with the IHL.
Since then there have been unforgiveable missteps like when Kevin Gray seemed to insist on local ownership in order to lure an AHL team when, most likely, at least three AHL franchises looked at KC since the IHL folded in 2001. I'd rather not talk about the misstep of bringing to Outlaws to KC. I told a former Kemper Arena employee that the UHL would NEVER work in KC. Others thought differently. Some are good at judging these things and others are good at making gloves.
What's the buzz?
I'd have more about the AHL if anything was going on. No public information has come out about KC pursuing one of the two available AHL franchises. The deadline for activating a team in the AHL for the 2007-08 season will be mid-May 2007.
What franchises are for sale?
AHL has 30 franchises available and 30 owners
I said "deadline for activating a team" above because the AHL has 30 franchises available, one for every NHL team. All 30 franchises are currently under ownership. Twenty seven teams will play in the AHL this season. Three teams are dormant.
Cleveland -- former Utah, owned by the guy who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers. Will begin play in Cleveland in 2007.
-- A franchise owned by the Edmonton Oilers and currently dormant. They played in Edmonton as the Roadrunners during the NHL lockout.
-- A franchise owned by Cincinnatian Pete Robinson -- he tried to resurrect the team as the Cincinnati Railraiders (great name), but failed to reach his goal for season ticket deposits and decided to keep the franchise dormant.
What franchises are struggling?
Oh no, you are not getting me into that trap. This is where the Star makes their mistake. The question isn't "what franchises are struggling?" it is "What franchise may be interested in relocating?"
It is very hard to identify an AHL franchise that is struggling. A franchise may have small attendance at the gate and, based on their lease agreement, NOT struggle.
To answer the question -- I have no idea, however there is franchise turnover in the AHL nearly every year.
Who could be eyeing KC?
That is tough to say. Will the team play at Sprint Center or at Kemper? If it is Kemper, no one.
If it is Sprint Center, I would think any AHL owner with a tenuous arena situation would jump at the chance to play at Sprint Center.
The question is "Does AEG want an AHL team playing in Sprint Center?"
AEG is obviously familiar with the AHL since they own the AHL franchise that led the league in attendance last season.
But, an AHL team would demand a large number of weekend dates. Does AEG want to tie up their weekend dates with AHL hockey or reserve them for these great concerts they say will no longer bypass KC?
Plus, AEG sold all those luxury boxes to KC's big fish. Did those big fish buy luxury boxes to see the KC AHL team vs. the Peoria Rivermen? I doubt it.
Is it even feasible so long as Paul McGannon has his heart set on the NHL?
Of course, if AEG can profit from the AHL. If AEG thinks they can make money filling arena dates with AHL hockey, then they could give a hoot whether McGannon is touting KC for an NHL team.
Would it be vice versa? Since McGannon seems to have the local media's ear, would McGannon and NHL21 embrace AHL hockey in KC and support it as the best possible alternative?
I would hope NHL21 would throw their full support behind an AHL team while continuing the spin "KC is a viable market for the NHL, too. Any NHL franchise that is not satisfied in their current market should look at us."
You know how I feel on this topic.
Get an AHL team to KC for Sprint Center's opening
Sports fans in KC will embrace AHL hockey. It is, arguably, the second best hockey league in the world. We, KC Hockey fans, will be exposed to players the caliber of Jason Spezza, M-A Fleury and Jonathan Cheechoo, who all played full seasons in the AHL, as they rise to NHL stardom.
Not only that, but the "4-A" players, right on the cusp of the NHL, are much more entertaining than the career minor leaguers of the UHL or CHL.
The impact the Blades had on this community still exits. Some of the Blades former "4-A" players still make their home in KC. Guys like Pat Ferschweiler, Gary Emmons, JF Quintin and Jason Herter are passing on their expertise to KC's current crop of youth hockey players.
There is no downside to an AHL team in KC (and...it'll be more affordable to take your whole family). I get excited just thinking about seeing AAA hockey again.