Revitalization

Mayor Confirms talks with Balsillie on Moving Phoenix Coyotes to Copps Coliseum

By RTH Staff
Published May 07, 2009

Mayor Fred Eisenberger held a press conference this afternoon and issued a statement confirming that the City of Hamilton, HECFI and a member of Jim Balsillie's legal team met this morning to discuss bringing an NHL hockey team to Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.

The City has begun to study Balsillie's proposal to enter into an agreement on moving the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton, including studying the legal and financial aspects of the proposed agreement.

Eisenberger noted that Copps Coliseum was designed with an NHL team in mind, that some nine million potential hockey fans live within a two-hour drive of downtown Hamilton, and that Balsillie's attempt to move the Nashville Predators to Hamilton two years ago amply demonstrated a strong demand for ticket sales and a viable market for a local team.

He added that a plan is in place to renovate Copps Coliseum to be ready to accommodate an NHL team "within a matter of months" if the deal goes ahead.

Here is the Mayor's statement in full:

I can confirm that a meeting was held this morning with the City of Hamilton, HECFI and a member of Mr. Balsillie's legal team to discuss the bringing an NHL Team coming to Hamilton - specifically to COPPS COLISEUM.

The Balsillie group is asking the City to consider entering into an agreement. The City will be going through its usual process to ensure due diligence. Members of the City's legal and finance staff are already working on this and at this point there are no other details.

We are prepared to work hard and do what we can to try to land a team here in Hamilton. Having an NHL franchise would be a huge boon for the city's economic development, drawing fans from a large area.

I can't think of a stronger market than Hamilton for an NHL team. The people of Hamilton, our businesses and community leaders (including those on City Council) believe that Hamilton is at centre of the best hockey market in the world .

Landing an NHL franchise in Hamilton would be excellent for the City, for hockey fans, for Southern Ontario and Canada. The value of an NHL team in Hamilton has no limits with some nine million potential hockey fans living within a two-hour drive to downtown Hamilton - home to Copps Coliseum.

Copps Coliseum was designed with an NHL team in mind. There is a renovation plan in place for Copps and those renovations will make the facility NHL-ready within a matter of months.

Two years ago, it took less than 36 hours for more than 14 thousand people from Hamilton and beyond to enthusiastically put down a $1,000 deposit for the possibility of purchasing NHL season tickets, while 64 private boxes were snapped up, each with a $5,000 deposit. This goes a long way to attest the viability of this market.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 07, 2009 at 15:31:47

Thanks for keeping us updated! This type of info is not available from the nation (Toronto) media.

Let's get it done already and move this team to Hamilton!

Hopefully if Balsille can get into the NHL he can convince the NHL owners to dump that bum Betteman.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 07, 2009 at 15:37:58

Bettman's business plan makes sense if you assume that most of the league's revenue will come from broadcast rights. In that case, adding another team to an existing broadcast area simply splits the revenue between the two teams.

The problem is that the broadcast media business model is dying, and quickly. As TV networks struggle with plummeting ad revenue, the magical revenue stream on which these southern US hockey teams depended is drying up and they're in serious financial trouble - hence the Coyotes filing for bankruptcy a little over a decade after moving from Winnipeg to a suburb outside Phoenix.

If the NHL wants to make money in the future, it's going to have to get back into the business of getting bums to squeeze into fold-down chairs. In that case, it makes perfect sense to locate an NHL team in Hamilton, since we've got the market to sell out our hockey stadium.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted May 07, 2009 at 15:41:01

Capitalist said "This type of info is not available from the nation (Toronto) media. "

This info isn't even up on The Spec's or CHCH's websites yet! (as of this moment)

Kudos to the RTH staff for being a better local news source than The Spec and CHCH combined.

Council knows that if they mess this up none of them are getting re-elected so hopefully this process will go much more smoothly compared to how things are normally done.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 07, 2009 at 15:57:30

Ryan,

Despite Bettman's efforts to generate more broadcast revenue for the NHL it still by far a gate-driven league. All the more reason for moving to Hamilton. Over here he won't be selling tickets for $10 a pop or giving them away for free at gas stations (as a friend of mine who spent time in the Tampa area told me about the Lightning).

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By JonC (registered) | Posted May 07, 2009 at 15:57:49

I would think that if 16 of the 30 owners agree to allow the team to move, it will probably coincide with Bettman being let go.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 07, 2009 at 16:48:25

how glorious would that be if Hamilton landed an NHL team AND Bettman was dumped all at the same time?? One can dream!

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By hunter (anonymous) | Posted May 07, 2009 at 17:04:02

how glorious would it be? very glorious.

even if balsillie doesn't win this time out, he might make some legal inroads towards a team in the near future, after bettman is pushed out. in any case he has the entire hockey world talking about hamilton and how great a market it is. people are taking notice and getting interested for sure. raise the hammer.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 07, 2009 at 18:41:43

so today's hearing was a waste of time. the NHL got a recess at the start of proceedings and met privately with Moyes. They came out saying the league is running the team. He came out saying he runs the team. Just a time-wasting ploy by the league to give them more time to find some other buyer who will offer less money, agree to keep the team in Phoenix and lose $25mil per year and perhaps be found to be a criminal once the deal is signed. Such is the dealings of the circus we know as the NHL. No wonder it's considered a minor-league sport in the US.
It's run like one.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted May 08, 2009 at 08:34:24

Jason, I'm not sure that everyone in hockeyland will sit by and let that happen again. Recall the last episode of this with the Predators. May 19 is the deadline for the courts to decide who owns the league and gets to make the decision. I'd like to see an antitrust suit from Balsillie if they don't look at his offer.

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By hunter (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2009 at 08:53:05

It seems to me the NHL has been providing operating funds for the team since November (despite previous claims from bettman that the nhl was not propping up the team).

But Moyes is the owner of the team. As the owner he should be able to sell or bankrupt the team, no matter what papers the nhl made him sign. If the papers are found to be anti-competitive or illegal then the bankruptcy can proceed.

Fyi i've read that 23/30 of the owners have to approve the sale to balsille. approval of 16/30 is needed for the relocation.

The more I read, the more i think that the only way for canadians to see more pro hockey in person is to form a canadian pro league. If organized properly I can see it succeeding. Of course it would be an enormous undertaking and would need massive support from players and fans, not to mention a genius leading it. But I think it could be done.

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By hookey player (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2009 at 10:18:23

Interesting comments from Ryan about the post mass media problems of the NHL. Interesting that Balsillie is a leading expert in post mass media communications. I wonder if NHL team owners could be swayed by a marketing plan designed for expansion in this newer media arena. Most teams have at least one cheek in those seats already.

As an aside: re-naming the old Coyotes. How about the New Tricks?

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By OLDCOOTE (registered) | Posted May 08, 2009 at 11:37:16

Bettman's head is stuck in the sand. He has tepidly put his job on the line here. If the owners support this move, it's a stake through the Counts heart.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted May 12, 2009 at 12:44:51

http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/articl...

"Additionally, it has been reported in The Spec that Balsillie's group would offer Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. the contract to manage Copps, the Convention Centre, and Hamilton Place. That would demonstrably help, not hurt, the Leafs' bottom line."

And apparently there is a second group talking with Eisenberg http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/articl...

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted May 15, 2009 at 14:36:35

For anyone still reading this thread I thought I'd post this update.

makeitseven.ca has gone live and now has the option to upload video or text comments from users, info about its corporate partners (Labatt and Home Hardware) and a store to buy "Make It Seven" t shirts and hats, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Hockey Canada Foundation to support minor hockey programs across Canada. There's also apparently more to come.

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