Friday, June 17, 2011
The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks. Congratulations? I don't know, I guess I'm kind of torn. Not just because it apparently started the zombie apocalypse in Vancouver, but because I in general hate Boston sports teams. I'm a Jets fan so obviously the Patriots are out. I hate the Red Sox mostly because they pretend they aren't as evil as the Yankees, yet they spend $50 million just to talk to a guy, not to mention Papelbon's state of perpetual constipation. Tie that in with that fact that how you can respect any fan base that blames their winning woes on a curse. No, you choked. The Celtics: can't stand Paul Pierce and then they had to add Garnett, but I think I get the Bruins. Cam Neely for some reason was one of my favorite players as a kid. Sea Bass, his Foundation, can't go wrong with that guy. Also my first floor hockey stick was a B's one that my parents got me as a birthday present, that led me to dominate matches at hotels during hockey tournaments for years to follow. But it also seems like the Bruins are the Boston team that actually defines what Boston sports wants to be, especially with what Tom Brady has been up to...
Finally we have some real detractors and now I've realized how necessary they are because they actually make you go out research your arguments. Not to mention they bring more excuses that I originally hadn't thought of so thanks. More fuel to the fire. Figured I'd write this all out so I have a place to send people in case any of these issues come up again.
The success of some southern teams pretty much negates all these arguments anyway, because compared to Wisconsin what did they have before to base anything on? But I digress, here are some comments and messages I've received that the rebuttal just makes a case for getting a team even stronger.
Too close to Minneapolis and Chicago, the market is too saturated
Hockey is the 4th or 5th most popular sport in WI
Admirals can't even sell 5,000 tickets
Can't use badgers as example for hockey passion because without students it doesn't matter
Badger Hockey Loses Money
Badgers get bad TV Ratings and have a bad TV deal
More people show up for MN high school games than Admirals games
MN has far more passion for hockey than WI
Milwaukee doesn't care about hockey, then don't have enough rinks
Compared to the Admirals, NHL tickets would be too expensive and no one would go
Wisconsin's media is too fractured
Not enough statewide tradition
Their high school state tournament is unlike any other. They sell out the Xcel Energy Center to the tune of 18,000 fans every year. I couldn't find anything about regular season hockey games, but I'm sure the big schools probably draw a couple thousand at least considering big high schools have that many kids. Again though, how many high school games are there in Texas or California that rival Minnesota?
Let's start with a couple easy ones (they all are).
"The Admirals can't even sell 5,000 tickets". To be fair I also thought the number was around 5000. However this past season the Ad's averaged about 5800 fans good for 11th out of the 30 teams in the AHL. They actually averaged just above 6000 last year which was good for 8th. Not sure the reason for the drop, I thought it may have been that the Packers made it further in the playoffs this year but there weren't any Ad's home games during their Super Bowl run. The average is better than Toronto, Hamilton, and Connecticut. Hamilton is another frontrunner for a franchise.
"Hockey is 4th or 5th most popular sport in WI" - I don't know what the 4th sport would be. NASCAR? Golf? Is there a major sport coming up that I'm not aware of in Wisconsin. Lumberjack competitions? Hands down Packers occupy #1, but then I see a free for all for number 2, as far as professional sports go, but does that really matter? Hockey is probably 4th most popular in Boston, 4th or 5th most popular in Chicago. The only sport it would have to contend with on a regular nightly basis is basketball. As much as I love the Bucks, I think a hockey team would be more popular from the stand point of attendance and TV Ratings. According to the RSN ratings Bucks average 13,000 households which sadly is in the bottom 6 of the NBA.
"The Badgers lose money, don't get TV ratings, wouldn't sell out without students, etc, etc" - Oh my. Doing a little bit of digging found out the Badger Men generate about $5 mil in revenue at a cost $4 million, and the women $575,000 at a cost of $2.5 million. So yes, overall there is a loss but from what I hear college athletics is a little funny when it comes to accounting and what can be written off as expense or added as revenue. The women's program loses money, not much in the Badger Athletics as a whole. Maybe it costs money to win 4 National Championships and create the best program in the country.
I wasn't able to find anything on TV ratings on a nightly basis and I agree the contract probably isn't great. In Madison I think the only way to watch it live is on PBS. But there is this little thing called the Big 10, they have their network, and the Badgers are helping to create the league for hockey in 2012 which will be shown on the network. The conference should exponentially help TV ratings and revenue around the area with familiar matchups to people in the area. Are more people going to watch Wisconsin vs. Michigan than a Wisconsin vs. Bemidji St on a channel that is more easily accessible, probably. No offense to Bemidji, it's just not as familiar to people that follow the Big Ten in all the other sports. I have a reason to hate Michigan, OSU, Illinois all the time, Colorado College just on the nights they play UW.
The student tickets represent 2,700 out of the 15,300 tickets for hockey. It is a similar percentage to football. But why not count students? Would students not go to NHL games? Even so 15,300 - 2,700 = 12,600, still more people that go to the Phoenix Coyotes game.
Expensive NHL Tickets - The Admirals charge between $16-23 for a ticket. How much more are NHL tickets? Not much apparently. The St. Louis Blues charge between $20 - $68 for a majority of their tickets and the Nashville Predators range between $19-$43 for most of their seats. Both markets similar sizes and scopes to a Milwaukee, and both pretty reasonable for going to an NHL game. As long as a team would be equivalent to Bucks or Brewers prices it shouldn't be a problem.
Not Enough Statewide tradition - The Admirals have been around for 40+ years, the Badgers have been playing for almost 50 years straight (the varsity sport started in 1921 but they discontinued it from 1935-1963), and Lake Superior has been playing organized hockey since the 1920's and offer one of the best high school programs dominating the state tourney when it started in the 1970's. 41,000 fans filled Lambeau field in February to watch the Ohio State and Wisconsin play in a winter classic (more than the amount at Ford Field for the National Championship in 2010). There are probably more examples, but that covers the state pretty well.
UPDATE: I had some time to kill so I made this map. Since 2000, each red dot is a school that has won the State Championship. How is that display not only for State wide tradition, but State wide quality.
Wisconsin Media Too Fractured - Not sure what this meant. I guess Green Bay has a station, Madison has one, Milwaukee does, and Eau Claire (?). But how often are games televised on local channels anymore. It's all FS Midwest. All the NHL needs to know is that their bottom 3 TV markets (FL, PHX, ATL) have a combined viewership of 18,000 households. I think Wisconsin does that without any teams here. In 2006 though the Frozen Four game between Wisconsin and Maine averaged just above 1 million households, an 11% increase over the year before that and a new record for the time. For the Gold Medal game between US and Canada last year, Milwaukee (who apparently doesn't care about hockey and doesn't have enough rinks) was the 5th highest city of viewership in the US (site) above cities such as Boston, Chicago, Denver, and Philly.
Milwaukee Ice Rinks - This is all within a 3 mile radius, but it includes the Petit, Bradley, Red Arrow, Jacobus, Humboldt, Wilson Rec Center and just outside of the radius is Lake Park. I may have missed some, or included one that shouldn't be, but I'm not that familiar with the area, let me know. Blue is indoor, Red outdoor. Anyway, this guy vehemently believes there is no outdoor rink in the entire Milwaukee Metro area, the map below barely covers the city let alone all of the suburbs. What are they on?