In my house we have a chalkboard that is hung on the wall right outside my office. On it are the various chores that our family is responsible for but mostly its to remind me of when it’s garbage day.
There are two numbers written on the upper left corner. One is to remind us that we a month away from our yearly trip to Orlando to buy another wand, sip butter beer, and pretend that Hogwarts does exist. The other is the count down to the NHL’s Board of Governors meeting where the potential of a Las Vegas franchise will be presented. I can almost picture Board Chairman and Boston Bruins owner, Jeremy Jacobs, listening to The Creator, and wondering to himself how much Mr. Foley would pay before he said no. Mostly because Jacobs and every owner in the league would get to split the franchise fee and not have to share one cent with the players.
The going rate to be an owner of a National Hockey League team is expected to be between $450 and $500 million. There aren’t many that want hockey in Las Vegas more than me but I can’t help but to wonder how the league can justify that figure. In the early 90’s, San Jose, Anaheim, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, and Florida were all admitted into the boy’s club for $50 million. In 1997, Atlanta, Nashville, Columbus, and Minnesota each paid $80 million. An increase because there were now going to be more pieces of the pie to slice. Justifiable.
Now, 18 years later, the NHL feels as if $500 million is a justifiable number? Only the NFL’s Houston Texans have paid a larger franchise fee ($700 million). To me it feels like taking a slap shot from Zdeno Chara without a mask or a glove for the matter and The Creator seems to be willing to take his chances. It’s strange considering a year ago only seven franchises were worth $500 million. Hopefully the NHL isn’t taking out an insurance policy against Las Vegas. It would be interesting to see NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman tell Quebecor, the Canadian media giant who is bidding for an expansion team in Quebec City, that they now owe $664 million American which is what it would equate to when you factor in the exchange rate.
When Bettman stated last week that the league had a lot of work to do before they decided on expansion it really meant how confident are we that the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes are going to make it. If you award both Las Vegas and Quebec expansion teams you would eliminate two potential landing spots for the failing franchises. The only potential markets with arenas would be Kansas City and Houston who might be more willing to pay a much lower relocation fee than the outrageous franchise fee. It also shows how the league feels about the Arizona Coyotes who had U-haul on notice and a one way ticket to the Las Vegas Strip this past Summer. It’s hard to justify expansion when current franchises in dire straits will need landing spots if they fail. If you think relocating franchises looks bad wait until you try on contraction for size. Then there is Seattle who still has failed to put a shovel in the ground. Expansion would suggest that the league feels pretty good about an arena being built in the Emerald City soon.
Personally, I’d rather have an expansion team because I want to create my own culture not try to change one that already exist. The good news is it’s almost midnight and its time to update the chalkboard.