[ ....continued from page 4
]THE CANADIAN QUESTION
As Colligan points out, most tend to be newer teams in U.S. markets with warmer temperatures and less history. So why not just move some up to Canada? While there have been more hints the league may one day be amenable to such a possibility, don’t count on it before a new national TV contract, if at all.
It’s also important to note the importance premium seating plays in the Forbes valuations – it is listed alongside local television contract revenue among the biggest differences between the haves and have-not teams. It’s no longer about butts in seats as much as corporations in luxury suites. “That’s the name of the game now," says Colligan, who lives in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins have added $15 million in suite sales from their new building. “Attendance matters but the average fan isn’t what makes or breaks a franchise. It’s whether you can sell that $150,000 corporate box to a local company."
Colligan admits he doesn’t know enough about the business markets in Quebec and Winnipeg, but like others, he has heard the questions about whether either has enough corporate support for an NHL franchise. “It’s nice to have the nostalgia of Winnipeg and Quebec and say we’d love to have them back, but is the corporate money there?" asks Colligan.
One thing is for sure, the decision to bring another team to Canada in the near future is less dependent on the NHL building up its footprint outside hardcore hockey fans and more on ticket revenue and regional support.