E-Mail Subscriptions to the Blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A new start

It may be more than 80 degrees out, but hockey season starts in less than two months, and the pre-season and the training camps in just a few weeks. Why am I obsessed with minor league hockey? First, I never got hooked on the Chicago Blackhawks. That is the price of not televising your games. Instead, at the age of 45 I went to see the Chicago Wolves win the Turner Cup.

Today I’m a season ticket holder. The Wolves are one of about 26 professional teams in the Chicago area, and join to become one of about 60 professional teams in the greater area by which I include places like Peoria, Milwaukee and South Bend. Places within about 150 – 200 miles of the city. I won’t even start to list all the NCAA teams in that region. Plus there are interests like harness, horse and greyhound racing, boxing, NASCAR and drag racing, etc.

It is a tough media market. The ads here are expensive. There is a lot of competition.

So, where are the Chicago Hounds in all of this?

The Chicago Hounds plan to skate in the still-to-be-completed Sears Center in Hoffman Estates starting in October. New to the area, they’ll play in the UHL, or United Hockey League. To give some perspective to the casual fan, the Chicago Wolves are in the American Hockey League, the AAA level of hockey. About a third of their players move up and down to the NHL each season.

The next level is the ECHL, which was once known as the East Coast Hockey League. Those players generally move up to the AHL or sometimes the NHL. The UHL is in the next level down of AA Hockey. Maybe one player a season will move to the NHL. The Rockford Ice Hogs were the best development team in the UHL last years, they sent two players to the Chicago Wolves and three players to the Milwaukee Admirals. That’s about a third of their typical lineup.

The Hounds announced an exciting signing of Coach Greg Puhalski from the Fort Wayne Komets. And the first signing of player Greg Koehler. But I’ll be damned if I understand who they are marketing this thing to. The stealth marketing discussed earlier: it is continuing.

What’s more, they aren’t saying value to the hockey fan. My AHL Wolves tickets run about $15 a seat, $18 for a single ticket on day of game. That’s row eight, sort of at the angle behind the net. The same Hound tix look to cost $26 day of game. For that, I give up AAA hockey and accept low AA hockey. Milwaukee Admirals tix, this season are about $19 on the glass, $16 or so for the Rivermen glass seats. And at those AHL games, I saw a lot of NHL talent on the ice.

I’d rather drive the additional 45 minutes and see the Ice Hogs. $19 for a glass seat.

No comments: