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Saturday, January 27, 2007

MetroCentre deal close to closing

The MetroCentre deal is very close to being closed. In a nutshell, the Rockford MetroCentre has agreed to purchase the Rockford IceHogs. The IceHogs will affiliate with the Chicago Blackhawks and move to the American Hockey League. The affiliation agreement with the Blackhawks will last for ten years. Owner Kris Tumilowicz will not hold a share of the new IceHogs, due to the UHL having onerous conditions on owners moving leagues. Instead he will be kept on as a “consultant.” As noted below, minority owner Craig Drektrah will purchase the Chicago Hounds. The Norfolk Admirals will continue to play as affiliates of … well we don’t know that part yet. And we don’t know how the American Hockey League is going to organize its Western Conference so that Chicago, Milwaukee and Rockford remain in the same division. And, we don’t know how the IceHogs are going to get a AHL franchise. Finally, the UHL says it plans to sue and also will levy a $400,000 fine against the IceHogs for leaving the league.

Over at the Wolfkeeper discussion list several of us put together a master list, if you will, of the owners and affiliates inside the AHL. Our gift to the MetroCentre. It is sort of a master cold calling list. MetroCentre manager Corey Pearson can use it to inquire if a franchise is available. Can you imagine the call: “Hello? Is this the Pittsburgh Penguins? Is there a Mr. Mario Lamox there? … What? Oh! Lamieux, of course… This is Corey Pearson of the Rockford MetroCentre, I’m calling to see if the Wilkes Penguins franchise is for sale. See, we need one to put the IceHogs in the AHL for the Blackhawks… What?… Wilkes- berry?… Oh Wilkes-Barre… Oh, I see… That popular huh?… He’s at a meeting in T O? What’s that?… Oh… Toronto… Why is it called TO? … What’s happening there this weekend?… I didn’t know everyone was meeting there, I guess I should have gone too…”

Sorry to slam Mr. Pearson, but this entire thing looks botched. Anyway, that’s the story right now. The MetroCentre still has to convince the current IceHogs fans to stay for the AHL, convert the rink to AHL standards (it is too small) and find a franchise.

Here is your cold call list Corey, good luck… (average attendance as of 1/19) (capacity as of 1/19)

Heshey Owned by Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Affiliated with Washington 8,437 / 10,500 (80.4%)
Wilkes-Barre Ownership Mario Lemieux affiliation Pittsburgh 8,019 /8,143 (98.5%)
Rochester Ownership Steve Donner affiliation Buffalo and Florida 7,771 /11,200 (69.4%)
Manitoba Ownership True North Sports & Entertainment Affiliation Vancouver 7,164 / 8,812 (81.3%)
Manchester Ownership and affiliation Los Angeles 7,130 / 9,916 (71.9%)
Chicago Owned by Don Levin Affiliated with Atlanta 6,623 / 16,692 (39.7%)
Providence Ownership H. Larue Renfroe affiliation Boston 6,443 / 11,909 (54.1%)
Philadelphia Ownership and affiliation Philadelphia 6,106 / 17,380 (35.1%)
Houston Ownership and affiliation with Minnesota 5,840 / 8,939 (65.3%)
Grand Rapids Owned by Dan DeVos Affiliated with Detroit 5,619 / 10,834 (51.9%)
Syracuse Ownership Howard Dolgon affiliation Columbus 5,074 /6,230 (84.4%)
Portland Ownership Brian Petrovek affiliation Anaheim 5,033 / 6,733 (74.8%)
Milwaukee Ownership Harris Turer, Ben Sheets & local group Affiliation Nashville 5,015 / 17,845 (28.1%)
Iowa Ownership Schlegel Sports Affiliated with Dallas 4,708 / 8,851 (53.2%)
Hamilton Owned by Michael Andlauer Affiliated with Montreal 4,158 / 8,819 (47.1%)
Peoria Ownership Anne Griffith & Bruce Saurs Affiliation St. Louis 4,151 / 9,919 (41.2%)
Worcester Ownership and affiliation San Jose 4,095 / 6,800 (60.2%)
Bridgeport Owned by Charles Wang Affiliated with Islanders 4,087 /8,412 (48.6%)
Binghamton Locally Owned Affiliated Senators 4,000 /4,710 (84.9%)
Norfolk Ownership Ken Young Affiliation Chicago 3,991 / 8,823 (45.2%)
Hartford Owned by MSG Affiliated with Rangers 3,924 / 9,801 (40.0%)
San Antonio Ownership San Antonio Spurs Affiliation Phoenix 3,819 / 7,035 (54.3%)
Albany Owned by Walter Robb Affiliated with Hurricanes/ Avalanche 3,709 / 6,982 (53.1%)
Toronto Ownership and affiliation Toronto 3,650 / 8,295 (44.0%)
Springfield Ownership Pro Friends, Inc affiliation Tampa Bay 3,174 / 6,679 (47.5%)
Omaha Ownership Partnership local and Calgary Affiliation Calgary 3,081 / 7,994 (38.5%)
Lowell Ownership and affiliation New Jersey 2,545 / 6,400 (39.8%)

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