Blog Entry

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Posted on: May 16, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 11:23 pm
 
It appears Atlanta is close to losing its second NHL team.

The Thrashers owner Atlanta Spirit are in negotiations on a deal with True North Sports and Entertainment, , The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore reports citing a person familiar with the process. The deal would include relocation to Winnipeg, which lost out on the Phoenix Coyotes after Glendale (Ariz.) agreed to pay the NHL as much as $25 million to cover expenses for the 2011-12 season.

Here’s more from Vivlamore:

A deal has not been completed and it is also not known how long the two sides have been negotiating. However, the fact that talks are on-going negotiations could mean the Thrashers would relocate to Manitoba perhaps as soon as next season.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, reach via e-mail, said there was "nothing I'm prepared to say at this point." A True North Sports and Entertainment spokesperson had no comment.

Technically, NHL owners do not have to seek league approval to sell a franchise. However they would have to get permission to negotiate with a party interested in relocation. Once an agreement in principle has been reached, the NHL’s Board of Governors would be asked to judge the acceptability of the new ownership.

Negotiations began after a buyer willing to purchase the Thrashers and keep the team in Atlanta could not be found.

It's been a messy ownership situation for years since a fraction grew within the controlling group. We chronicled some of the attempts to keep the team a few weeks ago. There was also talk that former Braves pitcher Tom Glavine was interested in buying the team. Those fronts have been quiet of late.

This is almost exactly what happened three decades ago. The Flames’ ownership group in financial straits announced in May 1980 that it was headed to Calgary after no ownership group could be found locally.

This stands to be the first NHL franchise to relocate since the Hartford Whalers, who left Connecticut for North Carolina and became the Hurricanes, in 1997.

Since getting a new arena built -- the lack of one was the impetus for the exodus from Winnipeg in 1996 -- the fans in the former NHL city have been dying to get the big leagues back in town. Relocation has been a very popular topic across the league in recent years, with the Coyotes having been rumored to be on the move for a couple of years now, starting with Blackberry owner Jim Balsillie, who was denied in his attempt to move the franchise to Hamilton, Ontario. Southern markets like these two at hand and others with lower attendances have long been the targets for those hoping to get back into more traditional markets.

True North is expected to have to pay as much as a $60 million relocation fee.

But this may not be over. Expect the league to do whatever it can to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta much like it did in Phoenix. The league just signed a 10-year deal with NBC/Comcast worth $2 billion and NBC/Comcast won’t be thrilled to lose a top-10 TV market to Canada.

-- A.J. Perez and Brian Stubits
Comments

Since: Nov 7, 2008
Posted on: May 16, 2011 9:22 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

That friggin' team was in the playoffs every year for a decade and a half and still couldn't sell out playoff games
DBowman is right.  And I can understand why.  Atlanta, like Miami and other southern cities, are towns filled with Yankee transplants who support their own teams.  I would have to look at the attendence figures, but I would imagine the games against the original six and other cold weather teams sell out and the games against teams without a star or a rooting interest for the transplant community don't.  It's not a knock on ATL or Miami, but it is the reality.  The Rays are also a good example.  In a season when they made the World Series, they had to give tickets away to get people in the stadium.

At the same time, can Winnipeg support a team?  I hope so.  



Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 9:22 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Hockey shouldn't be played below the Mason-Dixon line anyways.  The only places that should have teams are the northeast, uppermidwest, and Canada.  99% of NHL "fans" down south have never even stepped on the ice with a stick before.



bullshit......there is a ton of leagues in the tampa bay area....and the lightning have always had good support...even when crappy owners tried to bankrupt the franchise...with that logic we would be moving the twins to las vegas....just too cold for baseball.....and yeah i have played hockey my entire life...95% of which has been in tampa florida....my suggestion to you is to actually know what the fuck youre talking about before opening your manpleaser.



Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: May 16, 2011 8:59 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Atlanta isn't a good sports town, but if you put a good product in front of us we do show up. 
Tell that to the Braves.  That friggin' team was in the playoffs every year for a decade and a half and still couldn't sell out playoff games.  The Braves haven't been in the top half of the NL in average attendance since 2003 and their per game attendance dropped off 1,000 people per game when they went to the World Series in 1999.

While down 2 games to 1 to San Francisco last year, the Braves were 6,000 short of a full house.  Remember this was a Monday night with a 7:30 start time.  I don't want to hear squat about traffic, not getting out of work, college football games, or any other silly ass excuse.  The Braves fans don't fill the house even with the season on the line against the eventual World Series champion.  Everybody else sells out their playoff games, don't try to sell me that the Braves do the same.



Since: Dec 21, 2007
Posted on: May 16, 2011 8:58 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Bring back the Jets baby!



Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 8:02 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Ozark, there are never empty seats at the United Center nowadays.



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 8:01 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Winnepeg is not a viable market, southern Ontario is, and move the Senators they need a fresh start.
Melnyk has hinted many times he is not satisfied with the attendance and especially with a team in full rebuild mode.
Hamilton Senators would work.
Are you on medication? The Senators were at 99.3 percent capacity for the season this year, first. Second, how will moving a team out of Canada's capital city make anybody happy? Third, Melnyk torched Balsillie during the Coyotes fiasco. Fourth, you'd devastate Buffalo, probably causing them to move.

What sense does it make to move a team out of a good market that is supporting them and into a clogged market that belongs to the Leafs and Sabres? Hamilton Senators makes as much sense as the Houston Bruins.




Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 7:54 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

No agreement exists, and Detroit has actually been in the West or Campbell Conference for 30 years.



Since: May 8, 2011
Posted on: May 16, 2011 7:50 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Winnepeg is not a viable market, southern Ontario is, and move the Senators they need a fresh start.
Melnyk has hinted many times he is not satisfied with the attendance and especially with a team in full rebuild mode.
Hamilton Senators would work.



Since: Jun 22, 2008
Posted on: May 16, 2011 7:45 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

How can Atlanta be a top 10 market when nobody goes to the games and nobody watches the games?  I don't care how large the metropolitan Atlanta area is, the market does not care about having hockey.  Get them out of there and go to Winnipeg. 



Since: May 16, 2011
Posted on: May 16, 2011 7:32 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

So every fan in the northeast has played hockey?  Every Pats fan played football?  Having played the sport isn't required to be a fan.  The fan base is as good as the team warrents.  The thrashers are always in the bottom third of the league (save one year and don't tell me we weren't passionate during that series).
Atlanta isn't a good sports town, but if you put a good product in front of us we do show up. 
But don't say that you have to have played to care about hockey.  and yes, I did play.  Go Thrashers


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