Thursday, November 05, 2009

Putting the Jackets On To Leave??

Interesting story coming out of the Columbus Dispatch, where a story is saying that if a new financial model cannot be found to help out the Blue Jackets, there's a distinct possibility that they could leave Columbus. According to this report, the current ownership and the City Chamber is looking to find a model that will help the Jackets' with the $5M in rent they pay a year, as well as the $4M a year they lose in operational costs. The ownership apparently wants to have this settled, or at lease something done by the end of the calendar year.

I could be wrong, but this is the first time the Blue Jackets' name have come up in terms of moving from their area. The area they are in is a very snazzy one, with a lot of establishments nearby. The arena itself is beautiful, as is the practice facility next store; but in these tough times, no one seems to be immune to having to deal with financial hardships of that sort. Though, you have to wonder, considering the city voted not to give public money to building the arena, if they'll do anything of sort to really help out the team and keep them in the city for the long-term. Although, now that the arena is making money with concerts and stuff of that ilk; so who knows.

To an extent, I almost look at the Blue Jackets as the Atlanta Thrashers of the North; a team that has the talent to be great, but can never get to that next plateau due to not having depth in their system. Now, another comparison is going to be whether or not the team will be in the same city in the next five to ten years from now.

Granted, there's a lot of economic issues and numbers being thrown around and I'm sure that there's much smarter people within the area who could tell you more and tell you if it's just propaganda to get more money out of the city; but it's now out there from the doing of the city and not just rumors and guessing.

Yet, even with this out there now-- could this spell the return of everyone's buddy Jim Balsillie in terms of trying to buy the franchise and creating a hoopla around it again. Of course, the NHL is kind of pre-occupied with the Coyotes and all, so who knows how they will address this. The question is whether or not if this whole thing goes down, if the NHL will seek someone to keep the team in Columbus, even if a system in Columbus won't work. How much will the NHL push to keep a team in a city when the city even says they won't help out on?? The different issue with Phoenix is that the City of Glendale is actually trying to help keep the team in the area, which is probably why the NHL is pushing so hard to pull out all the stops to keep the Coyotes in the area.

While this is still developing, we can only wonder what kinds of twist and turns this whole saga will take now. If the NHL didn't have enough headaches with other kinds of speculations with other teams, now they have to deal with this. While Columbus has the ability to be a big time team, the attendance continues not to be there; which doesn't help the cause for the future. The Jackets are regularly at the bottom third of the league for attendance, hovering around 85% capacity for their troubles. It's a wonder if something can't be reached in terms of relief, whether that number will increase in support or decrease in depression. Only time will tell.


aaron said...

In talking to a Thrashers prospect from Ohio State, he commented that Ohio is more of a football area than hockey. I'd be interested to see if attendance rises after football is done, especially after CBus' playoff year and current position in the standings. They've been playing solid, but looks like they're still trying to find the chemistry.

It doesn't look like the Jackets' ownership has any stake in the arena, which is a key point that keeps that Thrashers in Atlanta. The money made at non-sports events seems to even out the losses taken by both the Thrashers and the Hawks. It seems that the entire Columbus metro area doesn't have the financial strength to support either the team or the arena. My question for this Buser guy quoted in the article: How'd the arena & team go from "pie in the sky" to "a moneymaker" since 1997? Also, could this just end up being another casualty of the declining upper-midwestern economy?

ScottyWazz said...

I always thought Columbus was more a college and minor league town rather than any kind of major league town. The Ohio State runs the city, for sure-- and I'll say that'll never change.

I think that the 1997 correlation is appropriate, considering it seemed to develop very quickly through the 12 years, especially since it was a pipe-dream of sort in order to get the big arena and big concerts.

Yet, I think it could be an issue of the economy, especially with Nationwide Insurance running that town.