Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ketuchup and Catsup Jr.

Team Location - Sheboygan

 Sheboygan may be a little better than Wausau in terms of small city supporting a franchise. Roughly 50,000 people, within an hour of high populated areas such as Milwaukee (and the greater metro area), Green Bay, Fond du lac, Manitowoc, and Appleton. It is outside of 150 miles that I think you need to be now outside of the Blackhawks territory without paying a fine. You get the Green Bay and Milwaukee TV audience.

Team Location - Whitewater

Whitewater, good distance between Madison and Milwaukee. It is also located around several smaller cities but when put together create a sizable population. Cities like Janesville, Beloit, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Oconomowoc, and Delavan. You may also get a sizable audience from Rockford, IL that don't feel like traveling to Chicago for the Blackhawks. It also has a great college population. The biggest knock would be size as Whitewater has the smallest population listed on here of around 13,000.

Team Location - Eau Claire

Eau Claire, I think it could be almost a reverse Madison, where you have their big college support the college hockey team and you could have the small college atmosphere support the NHL. I'm thinking Eau Claire a little more than when I started, it may be a close second to Wausau. Apparently there might be a (new) rule that NHL teams can't be within 80 miles of each other, which would also knock Milwaukee off. If it was, New Jersey, and the New York's would have had to be grandfathered in among others, and Eau Claire is in the 80-90 mile range from Minneapolis. Following that rule could work too because you could get just above the limit to create a better rivalry, and it is a pretty large college town...

Team Location- Green Bay

Green Bay seems too focused on football, but I think Packer fans could see room for one more. If the Packers are having a relatively poor season, December then onward could be great months. I think some owners would be scared by the Packer fans, but the misconception is always that they are focused to football. When instead they should just be considered great sports fans in general and are committed to their hometown teams no matter what.

Team Location - Wausau

Certainly the most important aspect when creating a franchise. Everything else can be built from this decision, but if you misinterpret your research and get it wrong your team is dead in the water unless they win the championship every year. Owners typically think go to a place with a ton of people, fulfill your TV audience as well and it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Tell that to the Florida Marlins, New Jersey Nets, Tampa Bay Rays, or NY Islanders that see their teams struggle during the regular season. No matter the size, if you don't have the interest you'll fail 9 times out of 10. It's easy to love a winner, but you are going to have bad stretches for the most part and you have to make sure the enjoyment of watching and following a team is there when you're on a 10 game losing streak.

Conversely look at the Green Bay Packers. In a city with a population a little over 100,000 and the largest by far in the immediate area, they sell out every weekend, have a huge national following and will for generations to come. Although it would be near impossible to recreate the situation of the Packers with the history and tradition, their franchise is the framework I would like to see this one built around.

Best Location so far - Wausau, WI

Wausau? Wausau?! How could they ever support an NHL in team with a population a smidge under 40,000? We believe Wausau would be a great city to host a franchise due to it's regional following, still relative proximately to major markets and in creating the cult of following of winning one for the little guy that sconnie embraces so well.

Northwest Wisconsin has a very rich hockey tradition that I think is hungry for the highest level of competition. This area has excellent youth programs, up through high school that create champion caliber hockey every year due to that passion. The region is pretty much left out of the major sports in Wisconsin and is more apt to contain Minnesota fans as a result. Southeast has the Bucks and Brewers, Northeast the Packers, southcentral/west the badgers. By putting a team there, places like Tomahawk, Merrill, Wisconsin Rapids, Eau Claire, and Superior would all have easy access to the team. All these cities among others in the area also support a total population of well over 100,000, quite a few within an hour of Wausau. It isn't so far out though like an Eau Claire or Superior that it wouldn't be somewhat accessible by the major markets of Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Madison every once in awhile. Hockey is a tough sport that is certainly not for the prima donna. It is full of tradition, strict codes that imbibe honor and respect so you need a region that fits that spirit and I think they do perfectly.

Wausau would also maintain that national appearance in similar light as Green Bay has of David v Goliath, but that David will always go to the whistle, the 15th round, the bottom of the 9th type mentality. Green Bay has a very specific taste where if you are an athlete that whines about contracts, doesn't hustle, doesn't have respect for the game that you won't have a place much longer in the organization. Putting in a place like Wausau over a Milwaukee would certainly help that image and mentality that we take pride in with our sports figures and teams.

To note, Wausau also has an airport for team travel.

Team Location - Madison

 Madison is still a big one we were tossing around for obvious reasons. Good hockey town, they have the facilities, and they are decent size. But we thought about the semi-pro teams that came and went over the last 20 years (Monsters, Kodiaks, Capitals, and the recently collapsed Madison Ice Muskies but that's a different topic all together) so that was a big knock. But were those more of a problem of situation rather than interest? Also somewhat in the middle between the Twin Cities and Chicago.