Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Expansion talk? Seriously?

A Las Vegas Wranglers game during the playoffs.
This is what happens when it's not bobblehead night.

Let's see, the banking industry is crumbling in the US thanks to a huge credit crisis, the stock market has had its biggest drop since 9/11 and tens of thousands of Americans are losing their jobs. What shall we talk about today?
NHL expansion, of course. And when I say "NHL expansion" let's all just assume from now on that we are talking exclusively about the US since it's been made clear that Gary Bettman would rather give away teams to anyone in the US, even crooks, rather than send a team north of the border.

Per Mirtle, Las Vegas is back in the discussion as an expansion site, with a new NHL-only arena proposed to be built just off the middle of The Strip. Considering that up to 5 NHL teams are highly unstable money losers that could foreseeably move within a couple of years (including Las Vegas' desert cousin, the Phoenix Coyotes), you'd think that Bettman and owners wouldn't even think of expansion at this point. At the very least, the assumption would be that Las Vegas should only be considered as a last-resort relocation option for an existing failing market ("Your Las Vegas Predators!"), but who seriously believes that NHL owners could resist a staggering $300 million expansion fee that goes directly in their pockets? They can't.

Not that it matters, but Las Vegas would be a horrible place for a hockey team. What we are talking about is a low-wage, service-based town that has been a top ten city in house foreclosures in the last two years, with no cultral attachment to a game that would be competing nightly with about 40 different entertainment options. The attendance figures for the current Las Vegas Wranglers ECHL team have been good but not great for a team with on-ice success, and the team actually had crowds dwindle to about 3,000 during their most recent playoff run. I realize the ECHL is not a marquee draw, but most tickets for the Wranglers are about $15 bucks with a lot of gimmicks thrown in. It's a big step to the NHL.

And for those of you that think that tourists will comprise the majority of ticket holders for a proposed NHL team, I suppose you could make that argument. I just think that depending on walk-up and single-game customers for a significant portion of future revenue is a bad idea as a long-term plan, kind of like a magazine deciding to forgo subscribers in favour of ad revenue, for example.

And then there's the whole major-league team playing in a city with legalized gambling angle. Will we have to worry about refs getting paid off, instead of just joking about it? It's not an element that's good for the game, and I don't trust the NHL
they of Fox Sports lazer pucks to ensure that the integrity of the game isn't compromised by full-time residency in Sin City.

But I guess I should say something positive about Las Vegas expansion, too. At the very least, I will give them credit for having nothing to do with the CFL's Las Vegas Posse playing to a crowd of hundreds sitting on aluminum stands in the middle of August. Now
that was a bad idea.

Also! The Oilers are on the internets tonight. Another rookie game against the Canucks will be webcast at 7PM MTN on the Oilers site. I find it oddly pleasant to hear Rod Phillips say the name "Lerg" for some reason.


doritogrande said...

Fuck, my screen's just green.

Help me internets. I want to see Hodgson.

Loup said...

for anyone who wants to see the oilers (rookies) vs canucks (rookies) its on at


Wasn't able to see it with Mozilla Firefox but works just fine with IE explorer 7.0. You might need to install flash. I did and it works fine. I think its 2-1 nucks btw.

Oh, first time that I comment, long-time reader. Love the blog, keep it up.


mike w said...

Also, set Firefox to "allow pop-up" since the actual feed isn't on the main "livewire" page.

Thanks, Loup!

doritogrande said...

I think I'm doing something wrong. It didn't redirect me to the livewire page. I'm (trying to) watching on the oilerstv portal.

mike w said...

Try the Canucks site, too, DG.

mike w said...

Taylor Chorney gets excited by food. This webcast interview is the fourth time he's described a meal he's enjoyed at training camp.

doritogrande said...

Oh my god....hockey's back!

Really appreciate it dude. For a university student, I'm shit-poor with computers

mike w said...

The Canucks feed worked then?

loudog said...

i wasnt able to watch with firefox.. with explorer it did work.

on the oilers home page click on watch live... then install whatever explorer asks you... should work.

doritogrande said...

got it first on the nucks page, then figured out what I was doing wrong on the oilers page. am now watching it from the oilers page. Damned if I'm going to watch from behind enemy lines.

Scott said...

I'm being told that the URL I'm trying to use is no longer valid... help?

Sarah said...

Yeah, I have the same thing as Scott. Some damn Brit is telling me that my URL is invalid. Fucking soccer players.

doritogrande said...

oilers main page. click where it says play on the mini-tv screen.

loudog said...

thats weird..

4-1 canucks... not looking too good. and how many penalties did the oil get so far? way too many

doritogrande said...

vancouver's 2/5 on the powerplay if I'm correct.

Trukhno and Lerg have really stood out for me. There's a reason Fisher lost his NHL contract too.

Who's this "cory" hodgson? He's great.

andy grabia said...

Mmmm. Stauffer. Prrrrrrr.

I don't know why they don't show these games on tv. Seriously. They had some Team Canada training camp thing on Sportsnet a few weeks ago. Why wouldn't fans in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton watch their own teams play rookie games? Or pre-season games? On Sportsnet right now: plane races. Plane races.

mike w said...

On Sportsnet right now: plane races. Plane races.

I dunno Andy, you'd be surprised.

I actually have a plane racing blog as well, although you can only read it if you're invited... because it's private... and WEIRD.

doritogrande said...

It wasn't great hockey, but goddamn it's fun to have it back.

Goaltending the difference in this one. Schnieder's just a great talent. Hodgson's going to be something too.

For the Oilers Lerg's got a chance to do for the Oilers what Burrows did for the Nucks, play his way into the NHL. Solid games from Trukhno, Eberle, Goulet(gasp!), and Bisallion.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does Maslonka strike anyone else as an interesting "project"...

doritogrande said...

tim: Interesting in the Boris Valabik sense, totally.

James Mirtle said...

I actually have a plane racing blog as well, although you can only read it if you're invited... because it's private... and WEIRD.

I don't find it that weird.

GMCN Innovations said...

If tourists comprise most of the ticket sales, chances are it's going to be because their team is playing. The home team captain is going to get booed worse then Chara did back in the first round last year by Habs fans. Good luck being a Vegas fan and getting a cheer going.

There has been lots of cons on this idea(increased shadiness of gambling, ECHL's poor attendance, many locals are in the service industry, no youth interest in hockey, economic stability, other major league sport expansion in Vegas would crush NHL team, etc.), but the only pros have been 'it could work' and 'they're building the arena'.

Any Canadian would prefer another Leafs team to hate for 50 years then a Vegas team to fold in 10 years.

Vic Ferrari said...

Vegas? Damn.

And it's not like Washington, Chicago, Boston, San Jose ... there aren't another ten million people living in the suburbs or nearby towns and cities. Drive out of Vegas and it's a lot of nothing for a long ways. It just isn't a big market.

And besides all of the other things you have mentioned, Mike, I would think that Vegas has the highest rate of shift workers of any city in the US. People just don't buy season tickets, or even minipacks, when they know that there is a good chance that they might end up having to deal blackjack at the casino on a third of the nights that the games are played.

If they go ahead with it at some point, this won't end well.

prolinecappers said...

If there is going to be an expansion there has to be a contraction before!!

mike w said...

I would think that Vegas has the highest rate of shift workers of any city in the US.

Funny you shoudl mention that. The Wranglers have a midnight game every year for people just getting off of Casino work.

Vic Ferrari said...

Cool. If they promise to do that with their NHL team a few times a year, then I'll be looking forward to the Las Vegas Point Shavers entering the league.

GMCN Innovations said...

Can we get a discussion going on potential new names for the Vegas team?

Las Vegas Hooker Cards
Las Vegas Gamblers
Las Vegas Bookies
The Celine Dions of Nevada

We could even name dirty plays after them:
-The LV Elbow
-The Nevada Knee
-The desert trip

Or fan promotions:

-Buffet Night
-Free Escort Night (and I don't mean the Ford vehicle)
-Try to sell out the arena night (this'll be the hardest one)
-Commit a Sin Night

mike w said...

Las Vegas Hooker Cards

My favourite. I can still hear the sound of dudes flicking those things at me on the strip.

Oilman said...

I remember during my first trip to Vegas, right at the 9/11 memorial set up in front of NY NY, there was a dude handing out hooker cards shoulder to shoulder with a priest asking for donations (or a very creative bum dresses as a priest)...either way, it was a little off-putting.

DMFB said...

I can think of nothing more American than a pornographer and a priest asking for money in front of a patriotic monument at a fake version of New York. That's almost a goddamn political cartoon.