Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:45 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 4:08 pm

City of Saskatoon joins relocation hopefuls


By Brian Stubits

Since the Phoenix Coyotes situation still hasn't found a resolution, there has been plenty of discussion where the team could potentially relocate to if it doesn't remain in the desert. The most of the focus in that conversation has centered around Seattle and Quebec City with Kansas City and even Las Vegas being mentioned on the periphery.

Well just as long as we're discussing the options, might as well add Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to the list. Really.

The prairie city in the middle of one of Canada's two provinces that shares a border with the United States but don't have a team (New Brunswick the other) would like to change that. Here's the initial report from TSN's Bob McKenzie.

But interested parties in Saskatoon have contacted the league and suggested there are individuals or parties in Saskatoon who would be willing to ante up the required purchase fee while various levels of government in Saskatchewan would make necessary arrangements to expand and make NHL-suitable the 15,800-seat Credit Union Centre.

Now the city of Saskatoon only has a population around 250,000 and doesn't have many cities nearby that could help. Saskatchewan's capital of Regina and its population of nearly 200,000 is three hours away.

Yet I have no doubt that even with a population of just 250,000 the city would likely have no problems filling the arena on a nightly basis. We're talking about a Canadian city in a province that produces a lot of NHL talent. In fact, Saskatchewan is responsible for 9.1 percent of the Canadian talent in the NHL today, a slight ways behind British Columbia with 10.6 percent and ahead of Manitoba.

It's all the other factors that you wonder if they could compete, such as corporate sponsorships, television deals, etc.

But they do have an arena that would work, at least temporarily until renovations could be finished. If Winnipeg's MTS Centre with 15,000 seats was approved, that size shouldn't be a problem.

The mayor of Saskatoon, Don Atchison, told the StarPhoenix on Friday that this is a little more than just idle chat.

“They’re exceedingly serious, make no bones about that,” Atchison said. “But it doesn’t matter how serious the ownership group is. We have seen that once before when Mr. [Bill] Hunter bought the team and was ready to move it here.

“It will be up to the NHL what occurs in the end.”

What he is referring to is Bill Hunter's attempt to buy and move the St. Louis Blues to Saskatoon in 1987, obviously an attempt that was felled by the NHL.

Obviously we're looking at a super long shot here. If the city failed the first time who’s to say the NHL would approve it on the second try? The population has to be a concern from an available money standpoint even though I think it would work, it's taking a leap of faith.

Just a little food for thought. In closing I'll leave you with this.

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