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Thanks for commenting on my article Rasheed. I'm afraid I'd be on the opposite side of you over your choice of Canadian expansion cities. My order would be Hamilton, Quebec, and Winnipeg. I base my choice on the arena issue and the rural areas of Hamilton and Winnipeg. Hamilton's arena could start right now. They've hosted major hockey tournaments in the past including the 1987 Canada Cup. The arena's present capacity is 17,000 as opposed to only 15,000 for Winnipeg. The city (even without Jim Balsillie) was ready to donate $50 million for upgrades should they have got the Coyotes. If Balsillie had got a franchise, the arena was going to be expanded to 18,500 and 200 luxury boxes, as opposed to only 62 for Winnipeg. I agree with you that Winnipeg would be a great market for an NHL team but they must have a proper arena and a competent investor.
I also agree with you that Winnipeg is better than any of the money losing cities in the NHL. But the league has unofficially demanded that any city trying to get a franchise must have or be willing to build an NHL size arena and have competent investors. Thomson is an ideal investor but he is content to remain in the background and has not publicly addressed the arena issue. Currently, Quebec is the only city trying to comply with the NHL's demands. If they can find the capital to build a new arena, they'll get a team even before they build it. The NHL won't mind playing in the old arena for two years (like Pittsburgh) so long as there is a firm commitment to build a new NHL size facility. Winnipeg still won't face up to this issue and until they do, I'll rank Quebec higher than them.
I wouldn't rank Seattle (or Milwaukee or Portland) below Winnipeg. All have rich hockey traditions and hockey would probably be a money maker in those markets as opposed to current American teams. Seattle was the first American city to win the Stanley Cup in 1917. It would be a great choice for an NHL franchise assuming they had good ownership and a proper arena.
Thanks for responding again, Rasheed. Right now, the only definite thing for Quebec City is a feasibility study, but I have to think there is more to it than that. No mayor would make that kind of announcement if there was not something else cooking and Gary Bettman would have to be an utter cad to encourage that kind of money to be spent if there was not some kind of promise included. There have probably been secret negotiations between Quebecor, Bettman, the mayor, and possibly Government officials, and other investors that have not been reported.
I think the mayor is well aware of opposition to spending government money on professional sports arenas/stadiums at both the provincial and federal level and is calling on those levels to see what he can get. But it is far more sensible to get as much of a new arena built by private funds and I'm sure both he and Quebecor are trying to line up as many corporate investors as possible. Again these would be private, unreported negotiations.
As far as the Olympics are concerned, the mayor is probably talking about making a bid for them at least a decade and a half from now when North America hasn't hosted them for a long time and Quebec would then be a serious contender.
Thanks for reading and commenting on my article, Rasheed. I agree with all your comments that Winnipeg's current arena is stop gap and they need to build a proper NHL size one. I wouldn't rate Winnipeg ahead of Quebec or Hamilton. First of all, Hamilton's arena is 2,000 seats more than Winnipeg, the bare minimum for a successful NHL franchise. And $50 million has been pledged to upgrade it, even without Balsillie, if they got a team. Winnipeg's arena cannot be expanded whereas Copps can be upgraded to 18,500 seats and 200 luxury boxes. It's more than able to carry an NHL team. In Quebec's case, they finally have something that Winnipeg doesn't have, an upfront investor, Quebecor which recently tried to purchase the Montreal Canadians. And Quebecor has recognized that they need a new arena and are currently searching for more investors to build a proper NHL one before going after a team.