by Michael Lowrey
The National Hockey League financially is in an odd place, with the league overall seeing a resurgence but several teams continue to lose money. There’s even been talk of expansion — the motivation would be a big fat check to existing owners — but most observers also can imagine teams relocating from “non-traditional hockey markets” to places in Canada where the locals are simply hockey mad. What’s a “non-traditional hockey market”? Any place in the south, like, well, Raleigh, which is home to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Which bring us to Monday’s news that Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. wants to sell the team and this snippet from the Raleigh News & Observer:
But Karmanos, who said Monday he was on a business trip in Geneva, Switzerland, bristled at the idea a sale of his interest in the team could result in the franchise moving again.
“This is one of the best franchises in the league and one of the best markets in the league, one of the fastest-growing markets,” Karmanos said. “It has one of the best arena deals in the league and one of the best arenas to play in.”
The Hurricanes’ arena lease with the Centennial Authority, which oversees the operation of PNC Arena, runs through 2024.
“The team isn’t going to leave,” Karmanos said. “I’m tired of hearing that. Why would it leave?”
Why? Simple: the team is losing money in Raleigh. And as Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com notes, Raleigh has the third fewest avid hockey fans of any existing NHL market.
Your Charlotte link: The Charlotte Checkers are the Hurricanes’ top minor league club. If the Hurricanes are sold and move to somewhere in Canada, the new owners might want their top farm team closer than North Carolina. At minimum, not having the Hurricanes, with a bunch of players that have played recently in Charlotte, on television locally and in the newspapers makes marketing the Checkers a bit harder.