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My personal opinion

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We've already seen the proof in the area. Once in the 80's and if you take UConn football which ten years ago was drawing 1,500 maybe on campus and now that they are mildly competitive in Div 1 they can fill a 38,000 seat stadium.

 

I think that shows you something, ten years ago if you got UConn tickets who would go?

 

My other thought is we have seen Columbus, Phoenix, Florida and what makes them more deserving of an NHL team than Hartford?

 

other than a larger population that doesn't like hockey you got me?

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MarkH2919 wrote : BJ, you've lived here long enough...

 

That I have. Long enough to remember Hartford Whalers teams that averaged less than 11,000 fans-per-game over a season. Long enough to know that over the NHL Whalers' existance, the franchise averaged 12,000-and-change in attendance... and that's ignoring the 1979-80 season when they played half the year in Springfield, thus averaging 9,854 for the year. Long enough to remember the "glory years" of 1986-87 through 1989-90, when the Whalers actually managed to average between 13,705 and 14,230... without having the "gun" of relocation aimed at the fanbase's "head" like in 1996-97.

 

MarkH2919 wrote : you honestly don't think that if Hartford had a consistent winner...a team that consistently made the playoffs, then made some noise once they got there...that the attendance wouldn't be solid and the people wouldn't watch on TV?

 

If, if, if. If my aunt had testicles, she'd be my uncle. ;)

 

Seriously, Mark... it is obvious that a major-pro sports franchise in any market - Hartford included - will draw better when it is consistently winning than when it is non-competitive. That said, there's no guaranteeing Hartford "a consistent winner" season after season... let alone "a team that consistently [makes] the playoffs, then [makes] some noise once they [get] there". If the NHL - ****, any major-pro sports league - could guarantee ownership in every market "a consistent winner", there would be no troubled markets. However, that's impossible.

 

(cont.)

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MarkH2919 wrote : We already know what Hartford draws for the NHL when the product stinks...

 

Yes, we do. My family held season-tickets for every Whalers team that took the ice in Hartford and I can tell you that "what Hartford draws for the NHL when the product stinks" was, quite frankly, miserable.

 

MarkH2919 wrote : but if they were good....and remained good for a long period of time...I absolutely think the ratings and attendance would be just fine. the problem was... the first go around... that consistent winner wasn't here.

 

Again, Mark... such sustained success, while possible, is not probable in the modern era of major-pro sports. The talent-level is spread so thin... leagues are so ****-bent on promoting parity amongst teams... that a mediocre product is all but *****ured in most markets from season to season. So, while there are fewer truly horrible teams, there are also fewer truly inspiring dynasties. Sure, with the number of teams that make the NHL playoffs, might a new Hartford Whalers franchise be able to make the post-season? Yes. However, is it likely that a team so troubled as to be on the verge of relocation is going to possess the talent to make deep runs in the playoffs year after year? No. Otherwise, said team would have been drawing fans in the market in which it was operating. Similarly, if the NHL were to suddenly decide to expand, is it likely that expansion teams would be consistently competitive teams? No. So, given that relocation or expansion would be the ways in which Hartford would land an NHL franchise, the likelihood of said franchise being a consistently good team out of the gates are slim.

 

(cont.)

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MarkH2919 : All I am saying is...if Hartford had a good team year in and year out...not necessarily great, and not like the old Whalers (3 winning seasons in 18 years)...

 

So, what are we talking here? "[N]ot necessarily great", but not truly horrible? Okay. The thing is not even a "solid" team can be guaranteed year in and year out. There are no "guarantees". If "guaranteeing" the consistent on-ice success level of a team is what it is going to take to insure that a Hartford-based NHL franchise rises above the fact that "Connecticut has always been a state **ll of frontrunners", than said new Hartford NHL team will be behind the eight-ball from the get-go.

 

Honestly, Mark... here's my take: In all but the largest markets, it is becoming increasingly difficult for a modern, major-pro sports team to success**lly make a go of it. This is particularly true in the NBA and NHL. That being said, even by NBA/NHL small-market standards, Hartford would be a market with precious little room for error when it came to the profitable operation of the franchise.

 

(cont.)

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An NHL franchise based in Greater Hartford would have to have the sweetheart deal of all sweetheart deals when it came to arena rent. Additionally, an NHL franchise in Greater Hartford would have to have an arena lease that entitled the team to significant ancillary revenues, such as a cut of concessions, on-site parking revenue, non-game event revenue, etc. An NHL franchise in Greater Hartford would most likely have to enjoy significant tax-breaks from both the State of Connecticut and the municipality in which it played. An NHL franchise in Greater Hartford would have to have a tremendously profitable broadcast deal. An NHL franchise in Greater Hartford would have to be able to leverage significant season-ticket and corporate sponsorship bases.

 

Frankly, it is the last three items - the broadcast package, the season-ticket base, and the corporate sponsorship base - that pose the biggest problem for a Greater Hartford-based NHL franchise. Why? Because I honestly believe that a Greater Hartford-based NHL franchise would have to leverage television viewers, season-ticket-holders, and corporate partners THROUGHOUT the State of Connecticut to succeed. Doing so is going to be exceedingly difficult - if not impossible - given the cultural sphere of influence that New York City holds over Fairfield County.

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Whalevolution wrote : We've already seen the proof in the area. Once in the 80's...

 

When in the 1980s? When the Whalers averaged 11,721 fans-per-game from 1980 through 1986? Oh... you're referring to 1987 through 1990, when the Whalers averaged 14,082 per game. Sorry, but four seasons in a decade doesn't convince me that Hartford is a success**l major-pro market simply waiting for a team.

 

I was there for each and every Whalers NHL season. Night in, night out. I saw the "support" that the Whalers enjoyed. Not just over a hand**l of seasons... for the team's entire existence. Did I enjoy Hartford playing host to a major-pro sports franchise? Absolutely. Do I think that Hartford was lucky to have ever landed a major-pro sports franchise? Without a doubt... DECIDEDLY lucky. Am I of the mind that Hartford is a truly major-pro sports market. No, I am not. I don't believe that Hartford has the wherewithal to support a major-pro sports franchise in the modern era of the professional sports industry. That's not to take anything away from Hartford as a community.

 

Whalevolution : and if you take UConn football which ten years ago was drawing 1,500 maybe on campus and now that they are mildly competitive in Div 1 they can fill a 38,000 seat stadium. I think that shows you something, ten years ago if you got UConn tickets who would go?

 

There's a difference between filling a 38,000-seat stadium six times a year and filling a 15,635-seat arena forty times a year.

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bjdellarte wrote :

"Doing so is going to be exceedingly difficult - if not impossible - given the cultural sphere of influence that New York City holds over Fairfield County."

 

This is one reason why the Islanders would be the best option for Hartford. It'd make sense that they'd retain a much higher proportion of their current fan base (Much the way Patriot fans likely would've stayed Pats fans had they completed the move from Foxborough to Hartford)

 

The divisions could remain intact & there'd be little difference in travel. Too, their AHL team has been settled in Fairfield County for several years now, & the Hartford "Islanders" would certainly have no reason to move it. Thus allowing for a constant Whalers presence in Fairfield County, not to mention a convenient 'Rochester to Buffalo' type of travel arrangement.

 

The three Wolf * Pack fans in Hartford would be happy, as they'd get to see their Rangers more often now than before with the new alignment, while conversely, Whalers fans would have more chances to root against the Rangers each season- while using one of their main rivals to do it.

 

Lastly, we'd be instant 4-time Stanley Cup champions :)

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While I do agree a consistant winner would be success**l here no doubt, I think there are easily thirty or so other markets that can say the same thing. Not to say these are good markets, but look at Florida, Columbus, Atlanta, Phoenix, NYI, etc those franchises have all ****ed for a decade (at least) and have either moved or could be moving in the near **ture. If we had to put up with crappy teams like that for that long (oh wait, we did) we would probably lose our team too (oh sound familiar).

 

Now, if those markets had good teams would it have worked, that I don't know, in at least some of them probably yes. We did prove here that when we had a winner we showed up. But like BJ was saying, it is easy to look at the couple years in the late '80's and the "gun to our head" year of '96-97 and say "see, we can have good attendance with a winner." The problem is statistically speaking you should only have a "good/playoff" team half of the time, and in a smaller market maybe even a little less as the bigger markets have a little more financial flexibility (even with a salary cap). So, on average, a "normal" decade would be one really good year (final four), three other playoff years and six non-playoff years. How would we support that record of success? I have my doubts. Do I know it wouldn't work, no, I can't say that, but I certainly don't feel comfortable saying it would. Now, don't get me wrong, I REALLY hope we get a chance to prove ourselves and that I am proven wrong, but after some period of "honeymoon" success if we fall back to our familiar average to below average team on the ice I'm not so sure it works in our second go-round either?

Edited by

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Oh, we need to get the Isles here quick so we can put the 30 year Stanley Cup anniversary patch on our uniforms!!!! haha

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When in the 1980s? When the Whalers averaged 11,721 fans-per-game from 1980 through 1986? Oh... you're referring to 1987 through 1990, when the Whalers averaged 14,082 per game. Sorry, but four seasons in a decade doesn't convince me that Hartford is a success**l major-pro market simply waiting for a team.

 

That's ok, convincing you doesnt help us at all. It's convincing a potential buyer and when convincing a potential buyer he or she will be told that when the team was playing poorly they avg over 11k and when they were profitable(in the black) they avged over 14k. That's the truth as you just showed us, Hartford has been a profitable NHL destination before, even if we only use your four year window. The NHL worked here before unlike say, Atlanta for example.

 

BJ There's a difference between filling a 38,000-seat stadium six times a year and filling a 15,635-seat arena forty times a year.

 

Yes I am not Stevie Wonder I see that but again it wasn't my point to compare a college football schedule to a hockey schedule the point was a fan base in CT grew over 25 times in less than a decade. Why did that happen? Becuase UConn got into the national stage much like an NHL team would be on a national stage. It shows that there is a market for a large fan base. The games being in East Hartford and drawing 38k all without the help of Springfield, Bridgeport, or Fairfield.

 

You can never say the market is too small the question is can it translate to a new NHL team in Hartford.

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Whalevolution wrote : That's ok, convincing you doesnt help us at all.

 

Actually, if more people throughout the ENTIRE State of Connecticut could have been convinced to support professional ice hockey - both major and minor-pro - as rabidly as I have, year in and year out, for the past 37 years, the Whalers would have never left this market. If more people throughout Connecticut could be convinced to support pro ice hockey as rabidly as I have for the better part of four decades, the Connecticut Whale wouldn't be drawing 1,917 to a game... even on a rainy Tuesday night after Thanksgiving. If more people throughout Connecticut could be convinced to support pro ice hockey as rabidly as I have since 1974, Howard Baldwin would have a better chance of convincing a deep-pocketed, business-savvy owner to plunk down the cash to bring an NHL franchise to Hartford.

 

(cont.)

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Whalevolution wrote : It's convincing a potential buyer and when convincing a potential buyer he or she will be told that when the team was playing poorly they avg over 11k and when they were profitable(in the black) they avged over 14k. That's the truth as you just showed us, Hartford has been a profitable NHL destination before, even if we only use your four year window.

 

Yes, but as I also mentioned, and you have conveniently ignored, there is no way to guarantee year in, year out on-ice success. As a result, based upon Hartford's previous NHL track-record, the owner of a franchise here can expect to draw 11,721 fans-per-game when the going gets tough. Sorry, but that's not going to convince any truly savvy business-person to invest in an NHL franchise in Hartford.

 

Which, incidentally, has been borne-out by the Whalers' ownership history. What types of owners have been willing to take a flyer on the Whalers? The team has either had to cobble-together multi-partner (Aetna-The Hartford-CIGNA-The Travellers-United Technologies-Connecticut Mutual-Bank of Boston CT-CB&T-Hartford National-Heublein-Howard Baldwin-The Courant-Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance-CLP-Greater Hartford Chamber of Commerce) ownership groups that made it difficult to reach a consensus, or the likes of Richard Gordon, Ben Sisti and Peter Karmanos. If Hartford was such a sure-fire, can't-miss major-pro hockey hotbed, why haven't individual, deep-pocketed, business-savvy, first-rate ownership candidates been falling all over themselves to put their money behind a team in this market?

 

(cont.)

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Whalevolution wrote : The NHL worked here before unlike say, Atlanta for example.

 

That depends upon your definition of "worked".

 

Additionally, when you have to resort to crowing about the fact that Hartford is a stronger hockey market than Atlanta, you're really not saying much. That's a bit like trumpeting the fact that Roseanne Barr is a better looking comedienne than Phyllis Diller. ;)

 

Whalevolution wrote : the point was a fan base in CT grew over 25 times in less than a decade. Why did that happen? Becuase UConn got into the national stage much like an NHL team would be on a national stage. It shows that there is a market for a large fan base.

 

Additionally, it shows that football - including college football - is an exponentially more popular sport in the United States - including Connecticut - than ice hockey.

 

It also shows that committing the time, effort and resources necessary to attend six home games a year is, by definition, less taxing than committing to attending forty home games a year.

 

Also, the original Hartford Whalers were an NHL team on a "national stage"... and they still only managed to draw an average of 12,235 fans-per-game to the Hartford Civic Center from 1980 through 1997.

 

(cont.)

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Whalevolution wrote : The games being in East Hartford and drawing 38k all without the help of Springfield, Bridgeport, or Fairfield.

 

The in-stadium audience for UConn football is comprised of residents from throughout the State of Connecticut and beyond: students, alumni, and - yes - general-interest fans with no previous ties to the university who simply wish to root for the flagship university of the State of Connecticut as it competes in big-time college athletics.

 

It is far more fathomable that UConn football would be capable of drawing ticket-buying fans from Fairfield County, than a Hartford-based NHL franchise doing so. Why? The alumni factor. If you - or, a member of your family - attended UConn, you're likely to identify with the school when it comes to taking a rooting interest in college athletics. That rooting interest may well translate into attending games regardless of where you live within Connecticut. UConn, by virtue of school affiliation, is the institution you identify with when it comes to college athletics. That's not to say that every single person attending a UConn football game is an alumnus, but a statistically significant portion of the crowd is likely comprised of alumni and/or someone with a familial tie top the institution. That's going to help drive attendance.

 

By contrast, if you grew up in Fairfield County rooting for the New York Rangers, you're not likely to start rooting for the Hartford Whalers just because said team calls Connecticut home.

 

I just see the possibility for Fairfield County being home to considerably more New York Rangers fans who happened to attend UConn, than being the home to Hartford Whalers fans who attended UConn. As a result, when establishing sports-viewing loyalties, I see more Fairfield County residents supporting a combination of the New York Rangers and UConn, than I do a combo of the Hartford Whalers and UConn.

 

(cont.)

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BJ It is far more fathomable that UConn football would be capable of drawing ticket-buying fans from Fairfield County, than a Hartford-based NHL franchise doing so. Why? The alumni factor.

 

Good Luck finding a significant number in a 38k crowd. I would venture that not even 5 to 10% of people that graduate from UConn come from Fairfield.

 

You spend alot of energy discussing Fairfield, I dont think its necessary. I personally could care less about Fairfield. When it comes to the possibility of the Whalers returning Fairfield is the last fan draw on almost everyones mind. Would be nice, sure ofcourse, but Fairfield is not coming to Hartford, and thats ok they werent needed in the late 80's either.

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Whalevolution wrote : You can never say the market is too small...

 

Yes, you can. Therein is where you and I have our principal disconnect.

 

COULD a Hartford-based NHL franchise be a success? Yes. However, to do so, I believe that said franchise would have to success**lly market itself to the ENTIRETY of the State of Connecticut. Sorry, but owning the Springfield-to-New Haven corridor isn't going to cut it. In the modern era of major-pro sports, a Hartford-based NHL franchise would have to success**lly leverage ticket sales to, and corporate partnerships with, fans and businesses throughout the ENTIRETY of the State of Connecticut. It would have to pull far more support in the way of Fairfield County-based ticket-buying fans and corporate partners than the original Whalers did. Even then, the team would have precious little room for error.

 

You and I want the same thing: a return of the NHL to Hartford. The difference is that I'm of a mind that said "want" is, for all intents and purposes, not going to come to p***** on the modern, major-pro sports landscape.

 

I believe Hartford was fortunate to have landed a WHA franchise, let alone an NHL team. If it weren't for the New England Whalers having experienced problems securing a suitable facility in Boston and Hartford having just opened a brand new arena, we wouldn't have even landed the WHA team. The availability of Hartford's arena on short notice - not the suitability of the Hartford market - is the reason the franchise ended up in Connecticut. As for Hartford's legitimacy as a modern, major-pro sports market... look, I just don't think the marketplace has what it takes to play with the "big boys". That's not a knock on Greater Hartford. I've been extremely fortunate to raise a family here. The quality of life is, to my mind, outstanding. That I have to take my children - and, someday, grandchildren - to AHL hockey games instead of NHL hockey games does not dampen my enthusiasm for Hartford.

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Whalevolution wrote : You spend alot of energy discussing Fairfield, I dont think its necessary.

 

Well, there's another significant difference between you and I. Fairfield County is home to the State of Connecticut's most significant concentration of personal wealth and corporate presence. Any major-pro sports franchise looking to success**lly operate within the State of Connecticut would be well-served in establishing significant sources of ticket-buying fans and corporate sponsors within Southwestern Connecticut.

 

Whalevolution wrote : I personally could care less about Fairfield.

 

Yes, but you don't have to care about Fairfield County as you aren't responsible for success**lly operating a profitable modern, major-pro sports franchise in the State of Connecticut.

 

Whalevolution wrote : When it comes to the possibility of the Whalers returning Fairfield is the last fan draw on almost everyones mind.

 

I can *****ure you that Fairfield County wouldn't be "the last fan draw" on the mind of any truly savvy business-person looking to success**lly operate a modern, major-pro sports franchise in the State of Connecticut. Such an owner would know that establishing a pool of ticket-buyers in Fairfield County - to say nothing of corporate sponsors/partners there - would be essential to the sustained success of a franchise in Connecticut... even one based in Hartford.

 

(cont.)

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Whalevolution wrote : Would be nice, sure ofcourse, but Fairfield is not coming to Hartford...

 

And that's problematic.

 

Whalevolution wrote : and thats ok they werent needed in the late 80's either.

 

How'd that turn out?

 

I mean, if drawing crowds in excess of 13,000 fans a game for a single span of four successive seasons is your definition of success**lly operating an NHL franchise, than I guess the Whalers run from 1986-87 through 1989-90 must be something to crow about. Me? I was under the impression that a SUCCESS**L modern, major-pro sports franchise was built to last over the long haul. And counting on Greater Hartford - and writing-off Fairfield County - certainly didn't sustain crowds of 13,000-plus for the Whalers over the long haul.

 

So, given that the Whalers average attendance in Hartford outside of the four years you point to was just 11,721 fans-per-game... and given that the Whalers couldn't, as a result, draw the interest of any truly top-notch, deep-pocketed, business-savvy individual to take their reins as owner... and given that the franchise ultimately relocated out of the market... well, I'd say that ticket-buying fans and corporate partners/sponsors from Fairfield County - indeed, from throughout the ENTIRE length and breadth of Connecticut - WERE desperately needed by the franchise.

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"It won't happen if you think it won't happen"

"It's hard if you think it's hard"

 

These are perfect examples of the common mentality when it comes to the Ct. Sports fan. Consistent negativity.

It's true nothing will happen if you don't think it's possible. The quotes are from Cesar Romero, ya the dog whisperer. I am not implying your as dumb as a mutt but I am stating that nothing gets accomplished without some dreaming.

I have said this before too, Walt Disney was rejected for a loan 308 times before he got one to build DL

Colonel Sanders chicken recipe was rejected by over 1000 restaurants before it was accepted

Imagine if these two icons had listened to you telling them it will never happen. You would have been wrong, and I think you are wrong here too.

 

You also are incorrectly implying that I think 86-90 is enough to prove that a team can be success**l, I have never said that but what I will say is that in 1986 this city was on to something it was working and then the ownership changed and thats the only albatross around the neck of the Whalers all this time. Poor ownership doomed the team, imagine if they had good ownership, they never would have left.

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Truth is, I don't know how many ticket buyers they'd get from Fairfield County...but they would absolutely have to have the corporate support from down that way to be success**l.

 

By the way, a lot of us, myself included, are kind of putting the cart before the horse here...we don't even have a promise the building is going to be renovated, never mind getting the NHL back. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to talk about whether or not the NHL returning is going to be success**l or not...but we really should save those conversations for if/when the NHL does come knocking on Connecticut's door.

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I don't think you can compare footall weather it comes to current UConn football or the past possibility of the patriots coming but using us as a bargining for foxboro. Football (even at the low/mid tier D-1 college level) is a much easier commitment with a broader fanbase than hockey has. Its once a week at at a big east football level much cheaper than an NHL game. 6 home games at the rent for lower level seats might be $30 or so per game. But $30 for an NHL team in hartford would get you in the upper bowl in the back rows. While the NHL easily is more entertaining than uconn embar*****ing themselves for 4 quarters more people prefer that over hockey in our state. The tailgating school spirit alumni support gets 15 to 20K reasonably to most games.

 

I really do not see a consistent draw past 10,000 people for 41 home games and i really do not see a consistent winning team coming to hartford in this current hard salary cap era. And as I have said many times on here the majority of your hockey fanbase is running around the state putting thier kids through youth hockey. I swear they need to do a do*****entary on hockey moms and dads its crazy on any given weekend how families have 2 or 3 kids playing youth league games in 3 corners of the state.

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MarkH2919 wrote : Truth is, I don't know how many ticket buyers they'd get from Fairfield County...but they would absolutely have to have the corporate support from down that way to be success**l.

 

Spot-on, Mark. I agree with you wholeheartedly. While I think any Hartford-based NHL franchise would have to TRY and land as many Fairfield County-based ticket-buyers as possible, I don't honestly believe that the team would make any significant inroads in a region dominated by sports fans falling under the sway of the New York City sphere of influence. Any Fairfield County-based ticket-buyers a Hartford-based NHL franchise did land would be "gravy". Much needed "gravy", but "gravy" nevertheless.

 

That said, a Hartford-based NHL franchise would absolutely, positively have to land considerable corporate sponsorship/partnership support from Fairfield County-based business entities in order to be success**l. That is a "nut" that the original Whalers never managed to "crack" to any significant extent... and I see nothing to indicate that a new Hartford-based NHL franchise would fare any better in doing so.

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"I really do not see a consistent draw past 10,000 people for 41 home games and i really do not see a consistent winning team coming to hartford in this current hard salary cap era. And as I have said many times on here the majority of your hockey fanbase is running around the state putting thier kids through youth hockey. I swear they need to do a do*****entary on hockey moms and dads its crazy on any given weekend how families have 2 or 3 kids playing youth league games in 3 corners of the state."

 

Couple of things here...first, the Whalers drew over 10,000/game in their very worst days. A new team would have the honeymoon period where the building was **ll every night, especially if they were to do a similar 3-5 year commitment that the people did in Winnipeg. When that period was over, if the team was good, the building would continue to be **ll. If the team was bad, the attendance would drop off...but I'd be shocked if it fell to under 10,000 game. Second, I am so tired of hearing your constant excuse about the kids playing hockey. We get it. There are a lot of hockey fans in this market, more than you think. And they stay home for the myriad of reasons that have been posted over and over again...they are Whalers fans that want nothing to do with either the AHL or the Rangers...they are WolfPack fans that (foolishly) want nothing to do with Baldwin or the CT Whale, etc. This market drew 4,700 for a glorified trading card show in 2010. This market drew 13,089 for a rebranding, and this market sold 21,673 tickets for an outdoor hockey game in February. Please, stop this BS about how every hockey fan in CT has kids that they are running around to all 4 corners of the state, it's simply not true.

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Fairfield will never have any interest in coming to Hartford for NHL games. I will reverse the scenario, if the NHL moved to Stanford and set up a franchise that was playing next year, I would maybe make the trip down once for the entire year and if I was asked to buy season tickets by anyone I would have to laugh.

 

Farifield wasnt needed when the Whalers were here so to me its a moot point. If they want to be? Great the more the merrier but its just not realistic for a fan base over an hour away to be gung ho about traveling that far in the Metro area of the Northeast too much traffic.

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Evo, it's not nearly as much about the ticket sales from Fairfield County as it is about the corporate support. Corporate support from Fairfield County is imperative for a major league team to be success**l in Connecticut, regardless of the sport.

 

As an added note, major support from the casinos would help immensely as well.

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