With a couple of NHL teams struggling, there has been a lot of talk about relocation in the NHL. This got me thinking: what cities are ready to get an NHL franchise? I have done some significant research to see which cities in Canada and the United States are ready right now or will soon be ready to host an NHL team.
As a side note:
Even though I feel that the NHL should return to Winnipeg, they have not made it on this list. The reason for this is simple: Winnipeg does not have a large enough arena and does not currently have plans in place to build one.
Quebec City is the first city on my list. The city has had an NHL franchise previously, but the team eventually left to become the Colorado Avalanche.
Currently, the largest arena in Quebec City is the Colisee Pepsi which, having fewer than 17,000 seats, is FAR too small to house an NHL team. There is hope however of a Nordiques return.
Quebec City is currently planning on a new 18,000 plus seat arena to be complete by 2015. This arena is the only hope the province has of an NHL return.
Hamilton was brought to the attention of many NHL fans when Jim Balsille (big player over at RIM) made several attempts at purchasing an NHL franchise with the intentions of moving them to Hamilton.
Say what you want about the Blackberry billionaire, but he has it right. Hamilton is ready NOW for an NHL team. Their arena has about 17,500 seats which is still a little small to impress the league, but meets their standards and even has a higher capacity than some arenas currently housing a team.
Portland has not been getting a lot of attention by the NHL, but they are one of the most ready cities for an NHL franchise. Their arena (Rose Garden) is only 15 years old and can hold over 18,000 hockey fans.
Portland already has an NBA team, and its proximity to the Canadian border could add extra potential for traveling fans.
Oklahoma City is working on expanding their sports, and they are ready for an NHL franchise.
Oklahoma would be a risky market for the NHL, but a quality team on the ice would equal big dollars for the owners.
Kansas City is a huge market and actually is split between two states. Kansas City is a sport market, and their fans have been compared to other die-hards such as Cleveland and Philadelphia. Their arena is brand new and meets NHL standards.
Kansas City has expressed on several occasions that it wants an NHL team and has gone out and built a world-class arena to show how serious they are. There is no NBA team in Kansas City, and the hockey team would be the only major sport to watch in the winter. Kansas City is a market which can support a hockey team and is most likely the first city on Commissioner Bettman's list.