In the past year, we've heard the rumours of the NHL wanting to get into the markets of Quebec City, Las Vegas, and Seattle. One city that might be getting overlooked is Portland, Oregon. It might be a safer bet than Seattle or Las Vegas.
Here's why Portland should be considered to have an NHL team:
1) Large metro population
According to the World Population Review, the metro Portland area has a population of 2.36 million. Portland is also a city with a fast growing population, going from 582,000 in 2010 to 600,000 present day. The metro population is perfect by NHL standards, and they have the density to provide a great fan base.
2) Sports market isn't saturated
Portland lacks a MLB and NFL franchise, and only have the Trail Blazers of the NBA and Timbers of the MLS. The market for another team is feasible as there aren't too many teams tapping into the population.
3) Great Sports Fans
The Portland Trail Blazers average 19,486 fans this season according to ESPN, good for 8th highest in the NBA. The Timbers averaged 20,806 in the 2014 season, good for the 4th highest in the MLS. Basically the two major sports teams in the city have high attendance figures; meaning finding sports fans to fill the seats won't be difficult
4) Signs of Hockey Success
The Portland Winterhawks are a Junior Hockey Team playing in the Western Hockey League. They have enjoyed success on ice, and their attendance always remains steady. For the 2014-2015 season, the Winterhawks average about 6,593 fans a game, ranking it the second highest attendance in the WHL. Of all the junior hockey teams in the Canadian Hockey League, only the Calgary Hitmen, Kitchener Rangers, London Knights, Quebec Remparts, and Halifax Mooseheads have a higher average attendance. Portland also receives full sell outs during the playoffs.
5) Possible home to play in
The Portland Trail Blazers and the Portland Winterhawks both play out of the Moda Centre. With a capacity of 19,980, the venue is bigger than those of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild, Philadelphia Flyers and many more. The arena is ideal by NHL standards, and it has all the amenities to house an NHL team. The only problem is that the owner of the Trail Blazers already has voiced his opinion that he doesn't want another tenant in the rink; however this could be an easy obstacle to overcome as settlements can easily be achieved.
Part of the case for Seattle to have a NHL team is that the new team would have a geographic rivalry with Vancouver. If the team was in Portland, the Vancouver rivalry is still a possibility, but a better and more exciting one could possibly be created. The San Jose Sharks are located just south of Portland, and the established Sharks-Kings beef seems to be one of the best in the league. The Sharks have a big, strong, hard hitting team which makes their games more exciting to watch. When they play the Kings, it's an all out war on the ice, as evident in last years playoffs when both teams combined for over 90 hits in one game. With Portland getting a team, a similar rivalry could be born, adding more excitement to the fan bases who cheer for these teams.
7) Division alignments
A team and Portland could easily be slotted into the Pacific Division. It would be ideal because adding a team to the west coast would allow other pacific division teams to travel less as they are playing another team that is in the same time zone and geographically close.