By Harvey Oberfeld
Keeping It Real…
December the 15th, 2014
The sellout of Canada’s national game … by the ridiculously-named NATIONAL Hockey League … to American billionaires may soon take another step.
The NHL has okayed a “ticket reservation drive” by billionaire Bill Foley, who wants to establish an NHL team in Las Vegas: the desert kingdom of glitter, gaudiness and gold (alas, mostly only for those who OWN the casinos).
There is no suitable arena for hockey there right now …but MGM is building a new arena-type facility, 18,000 seats, that could be used for hockey.
But Hockey …in Las Vegas? I believe it would just end up as another dilution of hockey quality … turning a first class sport even more into a manipulated American marketing mechanism … more about promotion and endorsements than athletic achievement.
And seems to me much bigger problems would surround the reality that there’s no huge established NHL fan base in Las Vegas or the state of Nevada …and thinking that an NHL team could be supported largely by visiting tourists would be pure folly: ask the Florida Panthers or Tampa Bay for their audience draw and financial numbers.
For the millionaires and billionaires, it would just be a fun trinket, and tax write-off. But the game will be further diluted and weakened.
Well, there is a better idea that the NHL brass, based in the US, have too long shot down .
How about delivering more NHL to REAL hockey fans? How about stopping … okay, slowing down … the American commercialization of Canada’s national game? (Naïve, aren’t I!)
Okay then, how about a bit of plain, basic justice for those who LOVE hockey, LIVE hockey and have been fighting so long and so hard for a return of an NHL team: Quebec City!
La belle ville de Quebec even has a brand new, ultra-modern $400 million arena already under construction …to be completed in about a year.
It’s also 18,000 seats …. and though that may seem small by NHL standards, at least those seats in Quebec City would have a better chance of being FULL … not like the masses of empty seats seen so often at failing US hockey arenas … despite major league rock-bottom pricing and promotions.
In fact, I’d bet that any Quebec City team owners and the NHL itself would generate a lot more revenue from a Quebec City team than most of the expansion teams in the US have managed. And in terms of television revenues, team regalia, endorsements etc. …where the REAL bucks are in professional hockey sports … Quebec City’s almost province-wide audience would be formidable … no doubt a much better draw and investment than Las Vegas.
Every REAL sports reporter (NOT those who spend their careers fawning over the hockey players and brass they are supposed to be covering) should be demanding answers: WHY is even a Las Vegas team being considered before Quebec City gets its rightful due??? Why is the NHL being so watered down with minor-league caliber teams that many of its games are now not even worth watching???
Maybe the federal government should get involved too!
The NHL … or even the original six … has been so polluted by crass baseless expansion pandering to US millionaires and billionaires that the game itself is suffering.
And if the NHL does insult Canada further by awarding as new team to Las Vegas BEFORE Quebec City, then federal advertising officials should lay charges for fraud and misrepresentation … and demand the name “National” Hockey League be dropped …. at least in Canada.
My answer to “Why is the NHL being so watered down with minor-league caliber teams that many of its games are now not even worth watching?”, in two words: Gary Bettman.