Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bring on the St. Pats

Eric Duhatschek puts into words today something I've been hoping for ever since I moved to Toronto:
If anything, the presence of a second team in Toronto would only enhance the franchise — by adding one more natural geographic rival — and if they ever met in the playoffs, it would represent great drama, a Gardiner Expressway series between the downtown Leafs and the Mississauga-based newcomers.

Because let's face it: At a time when interest in the NHL remains lukewarm in so many cities south of the 49th parallel, the demand in five of the six Canadian cities (except Ottawa) is unprecedented. All those people living from Oshawa to Oakville and spilling out into Aurora and points south and west deserve a chance to buy an actual ticket to watch an actual NHL game — and most can't do it, because the demand is so high and the supply so limited.
If there's one thing that I tangibly don't like the Maple Leafs ownership group for, it's their shortsightedness in not wanting a second NHL team in Southern Ontario.

Demand in cities like Vancouver is high, but at at least when I lived there or in Kamloops, I had a chance to buy tickets from the box office once or twice a year for a quasi-reasonable price. I attended Canucks playoff games from 2001 to 2003 for less than it would cost to see Toronto play Columbus in mid-January.

The cost of tickets in this city is unbelievable, with the face value of the cheapest lower-bowl seat running $180+ — and even then it's impossible to find a face value ticket for sale. Even, as Duhatschek notes, with two or three more teams here, that demand is still going to be there.

I'm willing to pay an awful lot for a chance to see NHL hockey live — and it's hard to believe that the option is not even available here.


At 3:36 p.m., October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anything, putting an NHL team in Hamilton would probably hurt the Sabres more than the Leafs.

But I agree that it makes sense to put multiple teams in strong markets. Just look at other sports - Liverpool and Manchester (both smaller than Toronto) each have two Premier League soccer teams and Melbourne has half a dozen Australian Rules Football teams.

At 3:52 p.m., October 05, 2006, Blogger Nick said...

Why "except Ottawa"?

At 4:47 p.m., October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's taken me a while to understand that now that I live in Toronto, I can basically kiss the prospect of seeing a live NHL game goodbye. It's a big change from Edmonton, where there are always a few hundred seats in the 300s available a month down the road for the absurdly reasonable price of $35.

And our team actually wins once in a while.

Can't wait to watch Toronto gas it again tonight. Too bad I've got Raycroft backing up my pool team.


At 4:48 p.m., October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because Ottawa had not sold out tonight's game until about 3pm whereas available tickets for the Leafs were sold within 15 minutes of going on sale in September. For all dates.

Forget just Liverpool (Go Reds!)and Manchester United, in those two cities there are also Everton and Manchester City respectively.

At 4:48 p.m., October 05, 2006, Blogger E Colquhoun said...

What a concept; Natural, geographic rivalries!

It is high time for another team in the southern Ontario area.

At 4:49 p.m., October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the Leafs are the St. Pats. Hopefully, Balsillie will able to move the Penguins to Ontario.

At 3:37 p.m., October 06, 2006, Anonymous Jason said...

A second team in Toronto could work.

I’d venture that there’s a sizable potential market here for a rival team that exists entirely outside of the Leaf fan base. The fact that the GTA is Leaf crazy is no revelation, but what is also true is that it’s hardly a monopoly. There’s a large chunk of fans in this city who want nothing to do with the Blue and White. This section of the market in Toronto is spread out amongst teams like Montreal (the majority of them, in fact), Buffalo, Detroit, and other various out of market teams.

Given the opportunity to embrace a hometown team that isn’t the Leafs, and the chance to actually watch live NHL action on a regular basis instead of following their team through the TV, I believe a large chunk of this anti-Leaf market would quickly shift their allegiances to a new Toronto team. Much like ex-Leafers/Habbers in Ottawa did upon the Senator’s arrival.

It would be a seamless transition since the natural rivalry that would develop would allow these anti-Leafers to continue to vent their anti-Leaf vitriol through their newly adopted Toronto team.

In the end, I bet that, far from the Leafs taking the biggest hit upon the arrival of a new team, it would be someone like the Montreal Canadiens who lose out the most. You’re not going to sway many life long Leafers who were raised to be TML fans and have been so since birth. But those out of town Hab/Sabre/Wing fans who have never had the benefit of having a hometown team they could support… that’s another story.

And yeah, an intra-city rivalry would make being a Hockey fan in this city that much more fun.


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