There are two notations in The Scott Taylor blog from CITI 92.9 KICK FM in Winnipeg... the first from yesterday's entry
So are the Atlanta Thrashers about to wind up in Winnipeg? NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says that the Thrashers ownership must get it together or else. The “or else” we aren’t sure of, but we do know this: According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Thrashers are 28th in the NHL in attendance, averaging 4,000 fans fewer per game in the 10th year of their existence (13,204, according to inflated announced figures) than in the first (17,205). The rumours get louder and it could be that the Thrashers are about to get a new owner: Mark Chipman’s partner David Thomson. Again: Believe whatever it is you want to believe...
Wealthy David Thomson of Toronto, the man who most of the shares of the MTS Centre and True North Sports and Entertainment in Winnipeg, has purchased the Atlanta Thrashers of the National Hockey League and will move them to Winnipeg for the 2010-11 season. The Moose will move to Saskatoon. The announcement will be made right after the Olympics. Believe whatever it is you want to believe.
Taylor is addressing it on his show tonight 8PM EST here...
The Rod Pedersen Blog from Friday:
Pedersen is the play-by-play voice of the Regina Pats...
More fuel to the NHL-to-Winnipeg fire:
I wouldn't tamper with a city's emotions. Well, maybe Swift Current, but definitely not Winnipeg.
In Monday's column I whispered the rumour that the NHL WILL be returning to Winnipeg in time for the 2010-2011 season. Since Monday, I've received several more tips about the topic.
THIS IS JUST WHAT I'VE BEEN TOLD, but representatives of the Atlanta Thrashers were in the MTS Centre recently getting a tour with Manitoba Moose owner Mark Chipman. Apparently they're looking at the possibility of adding 3,000 seats to make the capacity around 18,000?
The arrival of an NHL team would assuredly squeeze the AHL's Moose out, and we repeated that they could be looking at Saskatoon or Regina. The rumour mill went one step further saying the Moose are looking at Saskatoon, and that Blades owner Jack Brodsky could flip his team to the Manitoba Capital.
DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER! This is just what I'm hearing.
It gets more interesting:
The people who run the MTS Centre would like 80+ hockey dates per year in the arena and an NHL/WHL combo would provide that nicely (a la Flames/Hitmen, Oilers/Oil Kings).
It would be ideal for the 'Dub ... you could make a Manitoba swing and play Winnipeg Thursday and Brandon Friday and head back home.
Also part of the tip I got was that Chipman is building a training complex with practice ice in an affluent area of Winnipeg. Downtown would be ideally suited, but if the practice rink is in the community where all the players from the NHL team live, all the better.
So no Winnipeg, I'm not blowing smoke. I'm just passing along some interesting info I received this week.
OSG Sports has learned that True North Sports and Entertainment's Mark Chipman sold his leasing company on February 1- National Leasing Group- for C$130M. That should be enough to float most of the purchase price of the Thrash in straight cash, but it does take up to 90 days for any sale of a publicly held company to clear a trade commission... which would lend itself to a May announcement- long after a regular season concludes, and presumably, when attention is elsewhere.
The total "value" of the Thrashers franchise is listed at US$143-million according to a Forbes annual report in 2009.
The Atlanta Spirit Group has a seven-year non-relocation clause as part of its deal with the sports leagues the franchises are tied to... that would expire in September of 2010 if the purchase date of the elements from Time Warner is held as September 21, 2003.
With the back-room questioning of Philips wanting to either remove themselves or renegotiate their deal with Spirit on the naming-rights of the arena, that could be the last element needed in Atlanta for removal and relocation...
When Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with Thrashers GM Don Waddell in late January, Waddell "acknowledged that the Thrashers will be among only a few teams penalized in the NHL’s revenue-sharing program: 10 to 25 percent. Last year’s normal share was $17million. The loss would be $1.7 million to $4.25 million for a franchise already counting pennies.
"He also acknowledged that Philips has sought to get out of its naming-rights deal at the arena and sell it to a third party. He dismissed any notion that ownership would accept a reduction in the deal with Philips."
So, you have a financial loss ((or shortfall)) on several fronts through either the fault of Atlanta Spirit or a wonky economy, and you have a lot of arrows pointing in one direction.
All that's needed now is for someone to go on the record for this...