Friday, June 15, 2007

Balsillie's sales going well

By the end of yesterday, Balsillie and company reeled in about $6.25-million in deposits on season tickets and luxury suites at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.

Sixty of the 70 proposed suites were booked at $5,000 each, according to The Canadian Press, while 4,700 lower-bowl seats went for $1,000 each and about 2,500 upper-bowl seats went for $500 each.
I knew there would be a ton of demand for tickets for a third Ontario team, but those are incredible numbers for what was essentially a 8-10 hour window and the fact there was no advance notice.

I'll say this again: Regardless of what happens in Nashville, this part of the country deserves another NHL team. Ideally, it'd be placed right smack in the middle of Toronto, but given the implausibility of such a move, Hamilton's the logical choice.

UPDATE At noon on Friday, they're up to 10,000 sold.



At 3:26 AM, June 15, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

The truth is the Golden Horseshoe area could probably support 2 or 3 more NHL teams but the real question we have to ask is this: Is the 60 suites and 7200 season tickets that Hamilton locked up in one day more suites and season tickets than Nashville sold for this past season?

At 7:54 AM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Road Apples said...

wow. that truly is incredible - and in one day?

you have to think that despite any bad feelings that Balsillie has given the so-called "old guard" - the numbers speak volumes, and the potential dollar signs will outweigh any ruffled feathers.

this can only mean positive news to ontario hockey fans.

perhaps this was Balsillie's gambit all along - having faith that he'd get huge support right away which would in turn sway the NHL to his favour (whatever that may be...).


At 9:19 AM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Mike Thompson said...

Wow, only in hockey does misplaced nationalism result in a group of people (writers and bloggers) throwing a solid fanbase (Nashville) under the bus when franchise relocation comes up. If this was a US businessman doing this to a Canadian franchise, you'd be declaring him the second coming of Art Modell and encouraging fans to stay away in droves in order to prevent him from making money...

The fact is, he's talking out of both sides of his mouth putting his douchebaggery on display for the whole world and the lure of another team in Ontario has you all wearing the google eyes of a naive freshman at a seniors-only party.

It went from "Balsillie shouldn't move the Pens because the fans deserve better" to "Balsillie is a genius businessman and the Preds can't get packed up fast enough."
Well, from one of the southern US hockey fans to all my fellows in America's Hat, thanks for nothin'.

At 9:28 AM, June 15, 2007, Anonymous Scott said...

"misplaced nationalism". That's rich.

At 9:48 AM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Road Apples said...

throwing a solid fanbase (Nashville) under the bus

there are at least 2 things wrong with that phrase...but I'm not sure pointing out the rather unreal/sudden financial support Hamilton showed for an as-yet non-existent team is throwing the Preds under the bus. It is what it is - clear demonstration that the golden horseshoe and southern ontario is a woefully under-represented NHL hockey area, whether the Preds (or anyone else, for that matter) move there or not.

At 9:49 AM, June 15, 2007, Anonymous David said...

If Nashville had a solid fanbase they wouldn't be in this problem.

At 9:59 AM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Paul Nicholson said...

David: define "solid". We have a more individual season ticketholders in Nashville than any other NHL city. Our corporate support is what sucks, and i blame that partly on competing with the NFL, but mostly on Leipold's inability to market worth crap, especially to businesses.

Having said that, i don't argue that Hamilton or Toronto could support another team. The same could probably be said about a lot of places. The trick is that while it makes sense for the NHL in some ways, it doesn't spread the hockey love very well and will continue to marginalize hockey as a sport. I know most Canadians and 'old guard' hockey people don't care about that for some reason. And that continues to blow my mind.

Having said all that, though i don't think Hamilton is the best place for a hockey team (i'd put a team in Winnipeg first) i wouldn't bash the city or say it doesn't deserve one. Nor would i protest it.

I just don't want them (or anyone else) to get a team at the expense of fans like me here in Nashville.

At 10:25 AM, June 15, 2007, Blogger mc79hockey said...

We have a more individual season ticketholders in Nashville than any other NHL city.

You got a link to back this up? What I've heard is that Nashville has the greatest percentage of their season tickets concetrated with individuals, which, of course, isn't the same thing.

At 10:26 AM, June 15, 2007, Anonymous kwyjibo said...

throwing a solid fanbase (Nashville) under the bus

that's rich. If the fan base was solid, you wouldn't be in this mess. Look pal, I know it sucks to be on the verge of losing your team, but this happens. Frequently, in fact, if you're a Canadian hockey fan.

In the business of sports, teams congregate in areas that have more people willing to pay to watch them. Hartford, Quebec, Winnipeg and a murderer's row of smaller cities that used to have CHL and AHL teams know that.

if this was a US businessman doing this to a Canadian franchise, you'd be declaring him the second coming of Art ModellM

Right you are. We did do that when US teams gobbled up our Canadians squads. Just as you're now planning mass BlackBerry burnings, no doubt. So what?

We have a more individual season ticketholders in Nashville than any other NHL city

I wish there was a wittier way of debunking you, but there's only the pedestrian -- no, no you don't.

When the average announced attendance for a preds game last year was a hair over 15,000 people, that statement just isn't true. The Leafs, to name but one team, have an individual base above that. And in truth they could probably sell every single ticket as a season ticket, but they hold around a thousand tickets back just to maintain the illusion that you can get a ticket in this city. That builds a market for when existing season ticket holders die. (sad but true)

Again, it's not like, your failure as a fan or anything, so don't take it personally. You may be Superfan #1 down there. But there flat out aren't enough of you. As you point out, it's the corporate support that sucks, because corporations aren't willing to shell out for the mystique of what is apparetnly viewed as a second-rate entertainment product.

For what it's worth, I still won't believe this is going to happen until I see it with my own eyes. But don't wag your finger at us for getting excited by the prospect.

At 11:23 AM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

What Balsillie is doing is truly a kick in the nads to Nashville Preds fans. I think it's just a lack of class to go behind their backs and make this deal with Hamilton.

Will anyone go see Balsillie's Preds in Nashville after the insult that this has become?

At 11:48 AM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Paul Nicholson said...

Sure we will. I already know people buying season tickets just to piss Balsillie off (i'm already a STH). If we hit the 14,000 paid attendance mark this year (you can make fun of it all you want) Balsillie can't move the team and all this will be for naught.

At 11:59 AM, June 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" doesn't spread the hockey love very well and will continue to marginalize hockey as a sport."

Paul, that statement right there is what Canadians or the "old guard" or even die hards in other markets have a problem with. The NHL BoG's saw fit to "spread the hockey love" to geographical areas that they had absolutely no business moving to other than lining their bank accounts with expansion dollars. And it is exactly that mendacity alone that "...will continue to marginalize hockey as a sport." It certainly isn't our love for the game or the desire for another team or two here in Southern Ontario. The game is marginalized when you stick a franchise in an area where any semblance of a hockey culture doesn't even exist. The game is marginalized when the only TV exposure in the US is on a network that very few people even have, let alone heard of. The game is marginalized when an OT playoff game is pre-empted for a pre-game show for a horse race on a network that didn't even pay the NHL one red cent for rights. It's these types of things that should be a slap in the face to fans everywhere but for those of us who were born and raised in Canada and it's hockey culture, we feel it is exactly those things that are the ultimate insult and they alone marginalize the game. The near empty buildings in some of these southern US franchises makes us sick when we know for a fact that there are other untapped markets (CDN or US) where the fanbase and corporate support are chomping at the bit. The NHL isn't the NFL or MLB where you could probably drop a team from either league into Anywhere USA and instantly have corporate and Joe Fan support from the get go. The NHL has to make baby steps to reach such status. Plopping franchises into markets with no hockey culture and wondering why they aren't successful isn't what I'd call taking baby steps forward, they're giant leaps backward. Yet the NHL BoG's seem to feel they are on par with those other sports and try to expand into areas that just don't have the drawing power outside of their die hard fans and business customers. Unfortunately, that means that true supporters, like yourself, of a team like the Preds get it in the behind when ultimately, the owner can't bleed anymore and has to get out, hat in hand.

And parking a team or two in the GTA/GoldenHorseshoe doesn't just make sense to the NHL in some ways, it makes sense to the NHL in ALL ways. If all these BoG's care about is money, money, money then having another team in this area will feed their greed complex AND give the corporate and fan support another hockey outlet - both parties win. I simply just don't get how putting another team or two in this area marginalizes the sport, it clearly does not.

Yes, as a rabid fan, I do feel for you and for the others just like you who are merely an observer in this game of $$$. Because if it were the other way round, I'd surely be up in arms just like you. And yes, it is also quite malodourous that there are people openly hoping for the team you love to uproot and relocate. But for all the support (corporate or otherwise) that you currently do not have, you surely cannot fault others for "wishing/talking/whispering" about a move to an area that all but ensures a solid, tangible fan base in addition to the business dollars that could possibly support the team for decades to come. Every indication that we have up to this point shows that this is certainly not the case in a lot of these current expansion franchises.

So for me, this is one Canadian who cares quite a bit about how the game is actually perceived, run and marketed and I really do feel that southern US expansion has actually stifled (or marginalized, if you will) the entire game itself and that a move to Southern Ontario, the GTA or Golden Horseshoe, whether it's the Preds or not and while unpalatable to the real Preds supporters like yourself, is finally the first right thing the BoGs could possibly support in order to better the game itself overall.

At 1:15 PM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Paul Nicholson said...

Update: a group of Nashville businessmen are putting together a bid to buy the team if Balsillie's deal falls through. Given how much he is upsetting the BoG and Bettman, etc, this may not be that far fetched.

At 1:24 PM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Matt said...

"Well, I guess there's only one thing left to the WHOLE. F-CKING. THING!"

-Jake Taylor

At 3:28 PM, June 15, 2007, Anonymous Matt Gunn said...

If anything Baisille is showing there's interest for more hockey in Ontario (which was obvious to begin with, but at least now the NHL can't deny it).

But with the way he's going about this, I can't see the NHL approving his deal.

At 4:57 PM, June 15, 2007, Anonymous ken said...

>> " go behind their backs "

He's not really going behind their backs. I've never seen a potential owner more open about his desire to move a team.

Everyone in Nashville knows the situation. Even if you justifiably despise Balsillie for it, you can have no illusions about his intentions.

At 11:27 PM, June 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great news that the locals will keep the team in Nashville.
I'm sure the teams that contribute to welfare funds for the Predators will gladly continue to throw good money after bad to a competitor

At 1:54 AM, June 16, 2007, Blogger Julian said...

The trick is that while it makes sense for the NHL in some ways, it doesn't spread the hockey love very well and will continue to marginalize hockey as a sport. I know most Canadians and 'old guard' hockey people don't care about that for some reason. And that continues to blow my mind.

We don't care about it because all it really means is "more money for the owners".
You care about the strength of hockey culture in the US, and frankly I don't blame you, you're a big fan. But I'm a Canadian hockey fan and I care about Canadian hockey culture, and I want to see the game remain strong and an important part of our culture. I mean, hell, it's not like we have alot of other things anyway.

I'd love to see the game grow around the world, if it were more popular globally I might actually have a damn ice rink in my current location. But I do want to see the game remain strong and popular in Canada, and I think another NHL team will only help. Ideally it'd be in Winnipeg, but that doesn't look like it'll happen.

It may marginalize the sport in the US, but it'll only make it more popular in Canada. It's a shame they're somewhat mutually exclusive, but it's the case, so I know where I stand. Put a couple more teams in Canada, and then you can go ahead and put teams in Jacksonville, Memphis and Laredo for all I care.


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