Discussion in 'WHL' started by paul-laus, May 7, 2014.
Is contraction something the WHL would consider at this time?
I'm not that plugged into the management level of the league as some, but I doubt it. Just looking on wikipedia, the last time a franchise outright folded was the Spokane Flyers in 1982.
I'm also not sure who you take out. Prince Albert, Kootenay, and Swift Current are the 3 teams in the attendance basement (<3,000/game according to hockeydb's 2017-18 season-to-date stats). Kootenay just got new ownership this year committed to keeping them in Cranbrook. So chances are they'll have a few seasons to try to work things out before they are at risk again. SC and PA are both 30+ year members of the league with a fair amount of history behind them, and Swift Current in particular still fills almost 3/4s of its arena capacity in spite of the small attendance total.
The next tier is Prince George, Tri-City, and Vancouver. The Giants just moved to Langley and have a long lease at the LEC, plus they are filling a respectable 62% of the building even with a drop of nearly 600 people/game over last year (somewhat understandable when last year's team was a tire fire) Plus they're kind of a hub team for getting to Victoria and down into the US division. Tri-City is up to about 30 years of history in its current location and seems to be pretty steady attendance-wise.
Maybe Prince George is the odd-team out? They're 50% capacity on their arena this year, saw an attendance drop in spite of having a good team last year, are generally low-attendance for the past few years, and are, relatively speaking, the outpost city in BC, with absolutely no one being all that close to them geographically. They do have new ownership as of 3 years ago though.
I know there are probably a lot of people on the contraction bandwagon because of the whole "smaller league = better teams" thing just like the NHL. But I don't know where you can start taking from that doesn't mean you're either losing a good performing org or one with a ton of history behind it.
Made a note of this on the minor pro board: there's rumblings of a Billings (Montana)-to-WHL effort. No details as of yet. Rimrock Auto Arena seats 8,700 for hockey in a market smaller than the other US WHL teams... if anything, it needs to be downsized a bit for whatever level they're seeking (also apparently an ECHL rumor).
I was also looking at Weyburn, Saskatchewan, it's growing pretty quick and I could see them getting a look in the near future.
It was a rhetorical question, but thanks for the reply, you make some good points on the question itself.
Wanted to hear someone's opinion on this one. Port Alberni has the size for a WHL team, if they added some seats to that arena I think they'll be good to go.
If you are basing "my market is viable for the WHL because it's larger than Swift Current," you're wrong. Swift Current is a legacy the WHL will not repeat unless the league partially collapses. You probably need to find gold in the Alberni Valley to make that idea viable.
If you're looking for some hope, however, it's not a 0% chance that the league partially collapses. The class action lawsuit and the difference among provinces declaring WHL players as amateur are the seeds for a split. The seeds can get washed away, or they can take root really fast. Among other things, stock your popcorn, it'll get interesting.
If not that, you've probably seen my NHL-to-Seattle comments. There's a bit of domino theory with this. Part of the reason I'm a firm believer that Everett will end up with AHL is (1) Portland won't, and to some degree can't, (2) the good California markets are taken, (3) the arena in Kent isn't what the AHL wants, the arena in Everett is, (4) Spokane would be the interesting wildcard, and in another situation would be a better choice than Everett, but the rivalries they have are just as important to them, and (5) Boise wants a form of competitive control over their team, the business community can't handle being someone's farm team for any considerable length of time. I think the Winterhawk-Thunderbird rivalry diminishes once there's NHL in Seattle, and that rivalry is what puts a lot of the money in pockets in Portland AND Seattle. That puts Tri-City in a tenuous position... and they're already in a tenuous position regarding their arena. Spokane could be the place that survives all this, though their 2nd rival is Kootenay... in the other conference. Spokane SHOULD be the real prize for any pro league wanting into the Northwest, given the relative lack of pro competition (Gonzaga basketball is THE hot ticket, mind you)... unfortunately the most logical team that should pair with it in AHL is Calgary, and the Flames have left a trail of destruction with their AHL markets.
So back to the WHL. Everett, Portland, Tri-City? How about Chilliwack, Nanaimo (in Frank Crane, no less), and Penticton? Current BCHL facilities will have to do... and any league that wants to be stable has too much pride and "defensiveness" to fold teams.
Port Alberni is a terrible place for a WHL team. They have a tremendously unstable economy that relies far too much on the forestry and pulp & paper industries, it has a significantly lower population base than Nanaimo, the Comox Valley, and the Cowichan Valley and is far less accessible than any of those other areas.
Nanaimo should be at the very top of the list for consideration on Vancouver Island. Comox Valley and Cowichan Valley 2nd and 3rd.
The Cowichan Valley probably isn't an option unless the Duncan and North Cowichan amalgamation ends up happening in the near future. There were a lot of ... conflicts and hurt feelings to put it politely ... when the new pool and arena upgrades were done at the Island Savings Centre, which is technically in North Cowichan, but it's literally on the border with Duncan and North Cowichan ended up paying for most of it even though most of their constituents are a 10-30 minute drive away.
I'm not familiar enough with the situation in Comox/Courtenay/Campbell River, but they have the military base in Comox, two brand new hospitals (on top of VIHA's laundry facility in Cumberland and VIHA's central/north HQ), and Mt. Washington during the winter, all providing stable middle-class jobs. They also recently had a substantial highway upgrade.
The Alberni Valley shouldn't even be a consideration, honestly, until they upgrade the highway and modernize their economy, IMO.
Wow, Domino's falling all over potentially should on of the Seattle teams don't make it.
I think Port Alberni could not make ago of it. I think Nanaimo so rejected the arena proposal, I know people there are bitter about taxes and the idea of a publicly funded arena makes them rage. Nanaimo is off the table for quite awhile.
Comox/Courtenay is the next best choice on the island. Fast growing community, beautiful spot, only two hours from Vic. I think they need an arena however.
The US division would have a hole in it if the teams in Seattle don't make it.
Maybe a Portland, Comox, Victoria, Vancouver, Tri-City division works.
Take Kamloops, Kelowna, Spokane, Kootenay and make them one? PG as well..
Someone will take me to task on my geography...lol
What about Wenatchee? Have an arena as well as the best attendance in the BCHL. Grande Prairie would be another potential destination considering they have a rising population and an arena.
Wenatchee has been "interesting" to me to say the least.
Of all the untapped markets who could be persuaded to pay a base $25-30 for a single game ticket and at least $20 per game for season ticket, Wenatchee? I'm not persuaded. It's no accident that WHL teams south of the 49th have been in larger markets. Wenatchee just isn't big enough.
Yet... more luxury suites than Portland. That arena means something. I just have the squirrely feeling it doesn't mean enough.
But with the city being centrally located and within an hour or two drive from all the US Division cities in Washington, they would be able to generate a lot of visiting traffic. The city should have sought a WHL franchise the minute that building opened up - a lot of the money troubles that have been well documented about that facility wouldn't have been as bad or perhaps even existed had they gone this route instead of the NAHL route.
Comox Valley would make a great WHL market if they had the arena. Currently the largest rink is the CV Sports Centre which seats maybe 1,500 or so people on benches. It hosts Jr B and is obviously not suitable for major junior. The valley is indeed growing rapidly and there is a large number of both families and retirees, both groups with which a major junior team would appeal to I believe.
I remember driving to Ft St John once and seeing a sign that said, 1,500 KM to Whitehorse. Teams hate travelling 8 hours up to Prince George, not sure we can convince anybody to make that journey.
The dub can have the Wild. They always beat up on my Spruce Kings
I have a question, Please dont attack if its wrong.
I would think the if WHL would want more teams - Would they not look to move into the LA area or even San Jose.
Yes you would have to fly or Bus to Sea ( or when the East plays they fly from SEA to San Jose)
But you would add more fans and No Jr A teams anywhere.
near these locations.) USHL or NAHL)
* Adding more USA players in the WHL
*US dollars coming in to the league
* Many arenas are built already
* San Jose /LA are already established as hockey towns
*San Jose is a hockey town, and with a Pop of over 1 million.
* Adding new and more Sponsorship from the California region
Some of the cities that you are looking in Canada have less then 50k people.
If you had San Jose /LA/ Tri/ Everett/Spok (Sea) /Port ( They could bus)
Move Sea or Spok to BC division
Then each would have 6.
What team would not want to travel to California in Jan,Feb or March ?
But it's wrong, and I won't attack it so much as I will assert the following:
This is a bus league, born and bred. They're not making enough money in Swift Current and Prince Albert to change the model.
It is a Canadian league, plus markets within a 4-hour drive of one another and whatever Canadian "anchor" franchise is involved. It is part of a league designed to advance Canadian hockey players. This very likely will not change.
There simply won't be a bus league with California and PNW teams in the same division. Your map software and a basic understanding of the climate at Siskiyou Pass will be your friend.
Now, there's one caveat. The class action suit news seems to have slowed to a trickle, but last I saw, indications were problematic... but so are the solutions. That leads me to the Kamloops owner's proposal to separate the WHL into a U19 league and a 19-20 league... which sounds very much like a proposal for a dividing line between who can avoid being paid wages and who has to pay players. Perhaps that's something the court might ask the W (and O and Q) to resolve. The U18 league looks all but designed to protect the small market WHL teams (and in the other leagues, too), leaving the larger markets "potentially" to have a single jet league or somesuch. If that's what happens, who knows what happens in conjunction with that. However, there's a lot of messy details involved in that suit and a lot of legislation has already passed that may- or may not- hold muster with the court. So... who knows?
I'd love to see Billings get a team again, maybe include Missoula if it were to happen. Well, I just want more junior teams to exist.
Rumblings Wpg is getting a team, not by expansion though. I'll leave it at that
If there are rumblings about the Moose (seems like we'd have heard more about Thunder Bay by now if that was ever a real possibility), then I could be persuaded.
Care to speculate a division from which a team would be moving?
BC Team City starts with a C ends with a K
Too obvious... and we've been told the buyer wants to stay put.
Of course, people get told lots of things.
Separate names with a comma.