E-Mail Subscriptions to the Blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

QC -- IceHogs rivalry not dead yet; Flames may move Knights

The hockey rivalry between the Quad Cities and Rockford may not be done after all. Media outlets in the Quad Cities and in Omaha, Nebraska are saying that the Calgary Flames have scouted the Mark of the Quad Cities and intend to move the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights to the Mark, probably by the 2007-8 season.

The Omaha World-Herald reported this morning it had obtained a memo from Calgary President Ken King outlining the reasons the Knights would be moving from Omaha. The Calgary Flames own a majority interest in the Knights. The memo said the Knights had operating losses of $4 million over two years, season ticket renewals were disappointing, lagging attendance and the inability of the Omaha market to sustain three hockey teams.

Omaha is also home to the junior level Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League and the University of Nebraska at Omaha Division 1 NCAA team.

Separately, the Quad City Times reported Darryl Sutter, the general manager of the Flames, was spotted by reporters at a downtown Moline hotel. Two sources close to the Omaha Knights organization told the QCTimes.com that the Knights would not return to the Omaha Civic Auditorium.

The Knights are also owned by a local benevolent group, the Knights of Ak-sar-Ben, which would have its interest bought out. The Omaha World-Herald indicated the Knights would displace the Quad City Mallards, which have played at the Mark since 1995. However, the QCTimes piece indicated talks are underway with the Mallards management.

The Mallards management had examined moving to the American Hockey League last season. However, the team felt the financial requirements of moving leagues, such as upgrading the Mark to increase the size of the rink, would make the move prohibitive. In addition, the Mallards had applied for membership in the ECHL. However, that application was rejected as the closest rival to the Mallards was the Dayton Bombers, about an eight hour bus trip away.

The Peoria Rivermen had moved to the AHL from the ECHL two seasons ago. The move would leave the United Hockey League with just eight teams, several of which are considered financially unstable. Earlier in the season Richard Brosal, the UHL Commissioner, had indicated he was leaving at the end of the season. The only remaining UHL franchises in Illinois are the Chicago Hounds and the Bloomington Prairie Thunder. Both teams are expansion teams, and just ended their first season.

If the Knights move to the Quad Cities, Illinois would have four American Hockey League teams. Teams would play in Des Moines, Peoria, Rockford, Chicago, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids and Moline. Just a little further east is the new Cleveland team and two established teams in Ontario and four teams in New York State.

Among states with AHL teams, Illinois and New York lead with four each. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania each have three teams. There are two teams each in Texas, Ontario and Connecticut. An additional Canadian team is located in Winnipeg.

No comments: