I have to admit I was slightly askew in my original recommendation of Wausau as the #1 host city. Although it would be great to have one there, from a business stand point it probably wouldn't be the best place in Wisconsin if we want it to have the best chance to succeed. Even though it is looking less and less likely, a part of me would still like to see it in a smaller metro area to give something new to the NHL. The best of those types of cities may be Janesville (Let us know what you think in our Forum)
Janesville has fallen on extremely hard times recently. GM closed a plant there which left a significant vacuum in employment. Could a team be a way to rejuvenate their economy? It certainly would bring jobs back, and boost sales at hotels/restaurants/bars with extra tourism dollars.
Other Points -
Immediate City/Population: Janesville has a population of about 60,000 people. They have an ice arena, obviously without NHL capacity but could it be remodeled? There is easy access to major cities like Rockford, Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago.
Surrounding Area Population: I was somewhat suprised to find out that within a 50 mile radius of Janesville (above picture) is a population of roughly 1 million people (not including the city itself). It is nowhere near the top of metropolitan areas of the NHL but at the same time nothing to look down on either. Here is a list of some of the major ones and their distance by driving. Most are based off 2000 census.
|Rockford, IL|| |
|Belvidere, IL|| |
|New Berlin|| |
|Crystal Lake, IL|| |
|Sun Prairie|| |
IL Residents: Look at cities like Rockford, Crystal Lake, and Elgin. You would get a pretty signficant influx of fans from those cities and other Chicago suburbs, especially people that don't feel like driving down through Chicago to get to a Blackhawks game.
Proximity to Other NHL Cities: Not only are you about as close to Chicago as Milwaukee, but St. Paul (293 miles) and St. Louis (323 miles) are still somewhat accessible for road games.
Hockey Base is Growing: In 2009 Janesville became home to the North American Hockey League team the Jets. It could be a nice litmus test to see how they succeed. They also have a solid youth program, with decent high school teams in Parker/Craig and Beloit Memorial.