The question to expand or not to expand for National Hockey League owners will be answered shortly after Pittsburgh or San Jose skates away with the Stanley Cup. Two proposals are on the table, one from Las Vegas, one from Quebec City. Each applicant has a few “pros” and a whole bunch of “cons.”
Quebec City has hockey interest and a new building. Marcel Aubut sold his Quebec Nordiques franchise to Denver business interests who moved the team to the Colorado city in 1995 when he did not have a new building. In addition to not having a new building, Aubut had a currency problem as the Canadian dollar was slipping to a worth of 62 cents US. Quebec City remains a small, government town with few corporate loonies to chase. Of course, Aubut had no major league competition for those loonies. The Canadian dollar has been all over the board so far in 2016 from 68 to 80 cents, and currently resides at 76 cents US. In essence, this mean that the $500 million US franchise fee is about $625 million Canadian, and that’s an awful lot of cash for such a small market.
Las Vegas is a different story. There is a building, and there seems to be government support. However, Las Vegas is not a normal hockey market and probably would play second fiddle to the casinos, gambling and entertainment. The casinos seem to be on board but the market is very small. Although the casinos can make up for the market size, there is little corporate support and not much of a TV market. Nevertheless, the NHL could be the first major league sports team in the city in 2017 and get whatever corporate support and marketing partners available. Gambling should not be an issue in Las Vegas.
Finally, Las Vegas and Quebec City are both flawed markets which is why the NHL expansion is not a sure thing.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.