March 13, 2011
Majority ownership of the Toronto Maple Leafs could be part of a billion dollar package to the highest bidder. The city of Glendale is attempting to ante up more than $170 million to finance the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes. The average NHL ticket price to $54.25, and we keep paying for them.
So, generally, the economics of the NHL are strong. But as the economy lurches towards recovery, hockey at other levels is still dealing with hard times and tough decisions.
Two examples of that struggle today, beginning with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.
If you've read this blog for some time, you'll remember the CHL's Mudbugs from their epic, classic brawl in 2009 (and accompanying epic, classic fight call). In 2011, the future of the Mudbugs is in question, as owner Tommy Scott told the Shreveport Times that "there are no guarantees" the team will have a 15th season.
The operating budget for the Central Hockey League team is around $2.5 million, and they're losing money to the tune of three-quarters of a million dollars, for the second straight year. Scott says there are options, including sliding down to the Single-A-level Southern Professional Hockey League. From the Times:
The budget for a SPHL franchise is about $1M less than one in the CHL. "However, I have a CHL license agreement," Scott said. "It limits you. You can't just jump from one league to the next without going through a bunch of things."
Scott estimates only "four of 18 CHL teams break even or show a profit. And the teams that lose are losing anywhere from $100,000 to one million dollars." A handful of CHL teams have been rumored to exploring other options for next season. CHL owners are scheduled to meet in Dallas in two weeks.
So not exactly good times in the CHL, which is something worth monitoring, considering it's a heartland league in the U.S. Meanwhile, there's a second (more uplifting) economic story playing out in Winnipeg.
What would you do if the ice-time fees for your men's league were suddenly jacked up by 22 percent? That's what happened at Sargent Park Arena, where the hourly rates went from $210 to $260. But it's for the survival of youth hockey, and players tell the Winnipeg Sun that makes the fees worth it:
"We wouldn't be here without minor hockey, so raise the prices," said Road Rockets player Steve, who did not want his last name published. "We've got to play to pay. I'm fine with it."
Both of these stories are a microcosm of the reality of hockey's surroundings at community levels. What are the hockey economics in your area these days, for minor league and/or youth hockey? Recovering along with the economy, or still struggling for funding?