In this last instalment of the best candidates in the NHL to relocate, we look at the lowly Carolina Hurricanes. Part 1 and Part 2 of the series have already been posted; just click on the tags if you wish to read.
Why the Hurricanes are unsuccessful:
1) The dreaded budget team
Peter Karmanos Jr is the current owner of Carolina, and has been prior to the days of the Hurricanes being the Hartford Whalers. Unlike the situations in Florida and Phoenix, the Hurricanes have had a stable ownership for years now. Like the other two teams, Carolina has constantly had a low payroll, but still a little bit above the cap minimum. The owner is willing to spend only to a certain point, to which the current GM of the team, Ron Francis, is prohibited from exceeding. This is what is called an internal budget, where the team has the possibility to spend a certain amount, but the owner puts his own sort of cap on the team, which is significantly lower than the leagues.
This season the Hurricanes finally spent right up to the salary cap, but only because Karmanos wants the team to look good as he has announced he is looking to sell the franchise. Point being, the owner is only beginning to spend on the team so he can sell the team for top dollar.
2) Bad Attendance
Yes, the Canes sold out in their home opener, but we shouldn't congratulate them because that should be expected. Carolina sells their tickets for dirt cheap, and still are thousands short from selling out. According to the Hockey Database, they average around 14,000-16,000 fans a game. Just like the Panthers, they do give away tickets to fill the seats, but no where near the same amount as Florida. The combination of free/dirt cheap tickets and low attendance simply isn't sustainable from a business standpoint.
Photo courtesy of "Empty Seats Galore" on Twitter
3) Small City
The Hurricanes are located in Raleigh, North Carolina which has a total population of 1.2 million people. The city itself is just too small, but Peter Karmanos Jr states that the city works because they are the only sports team in the area and they have no competition for the attention of sports fans. I myself am going to say that this is a big lie. Just 2 and a 1/2 hours away from Raleigh is the City of Charlotte, home to the Carolina Panthers of the NFL and the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA. Both of those sports dominate the interests of Americans, especially in the south. In Raleigh, theres North Carolina State University, home of the Tar Heels and the thousands of fans that follow them. So Mr. karmanos Jr, your team is not the only one in the area, and certainly not the most popular.
Possible Relocation Sites:
In my opinion the team should avoid going to Las Vegas and instead opt to join the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
Why to avoid Vegas:
Lets be honest here, with all the problems the NHL has had with teams in the sunbelt, why on earth would they put another team there? Yes there is an arena beginning to be built, and there is upside in the fact that no other sports franchises call the city home, but I am personally guaranteeing that it will just be a sequel to what is happening in Phoenix. The idea that tourists will provide solid attendance numbers is absurd, because after on, the Florida Panthers had the same hope and they are just selling tickets like crazy right?People all across the world go to Vegas for one reason and one reason only, and that is to stupidly gamble their money away, not to go see a hockey game. The city itself offers people so much to do, and a hockey game would just be second thought behind all the gambling and shows.
Why a 2nd team would be successful in Toronto:
1) Ummm hello it's Toronto, the hockey capital of the universe
Leafs Nation literally has millions of die hard fans that continue to cheer for the team no matter how they are doing on the ice, with myself included. I've read comments from Gary Bettman (commissioner of the NHL) saying that Toronto is Leafs territory, and a new team would have trouble attracting fans. I'm going to say this nicely, but how big of an idiot is he? You have a city consumed by the sport of hockey, I mean look at its minor hockey roots. The Greater Toronto Hockey League feeds the NHL with players, including big names such as Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, PK Subban, and many more. This city is all about hockey, and a fan base for the new team would most certainly be established.
2) Possible arena
The GTA centre is still being discussed by the City of Markham (a suburb that borders Toronto) and it is possible that it could be approved in the forseable future. If worse comes to worse, the new team could lease out of the Air Canada Centre as well as another possibility
Proposed GTA Centre
3) Rapidly growing population
Toronto is the biggest city in Canada, and has one of the fastest growing populations. As stated above, a fan base for the new team will easily be achieved, and with the city growing bigger each year, the fan base will grow accordingly.
4) If Los Angeles can have two teams, why not Toronto?
Come on Bettman, you have two teams located 20 min from each other in the sunbelt, but you think two teams in Toronto isn't possible? Anaheim and Los Angeles share the same geographic area, and in New York City you have the Islanders, Rangers, and Devils all in one geographic area. In my opinion it's actually a shame that these cities have multiple teams before Toronto.
There are millions, yes millions, of Leafs fans that don't get to go and see NHL games because the Leafs tickets are so expensive. If you want to go see the Leafs, you better be prepared to give up your first born child and a couple hundred dollars for upper bowl seats. A new team would allow for the potential for these fans to go see a game, adding to the new teams fan base.
Thanks for reading, and again the links to the first two articles are at the top. Feel free to comment.