Dollars, Loonies and Cents in NHL Expansion Bids
There seems to have been some movement towards expansion in the National Hockey League in that the owners will decide sometime in June whether to stay at 30 teams or add one or possibly two teams. Las Vegas and Quebec City investors have submitted bids to the league and have been waiting since last fall to hear about expansion. The Las Vegas group is moving ahead and a new arena in the city is near ready and a practice facility is being planned. Las Vegas seems to be all set if the NHL calls Bill Foley and asks for a check for $500 million for an expansion team that would start play in 2017. Quebec City though, despite having a new arena which was not available in 1995 when Marcel Aubut sold his Nordiques franchise to Denver interests, has different problems.
The Canadian dollar has rebounded to around 77 cents US and that helps but a Quebec City franchise at the moment would cost over $600 million Canadian. Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulrooney who is the chairman of the company, Quebecor, that wants the Quebec City team told a local radio show that the return of the Nordiques isn’t going to happen tomorrow morning and that the Canadian dollar is a significant part of the problem. Quebecor put out the word it was looking for investors during the late 2015 Canadian dollar free fall. Neither Las Vegas nor Quebec City are perfect markets. Both Las Vegas and Quebec City have buildings, neither has a big TV market although Quebec City backers own a large media company that does business with the NHL. Quebec City is a government town while Las Vegas is a tourist destination and neither has a big corporate base. In the end, it will come down to the financial judgment of the 30 NHL owners and if they think Las Vegas and Quebec City would be a good fit financially in the National Hockey League then Las Vegas and Quebec City will be in the National Hockey League.
Republished with permission Evan Weiner with The Politics of Sports Business.