The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

This comes off at first like a crackpot notion, but the more I read it, the more it liked it. A proposed solution to the fear of professional sports franchises leaving small markets--in this case, NHL teams leaving Canadian cities--is to allow teams to set up shop in two cities, one north and one south of the border. The basic argument is that it's better to have half a franchise, as it were, than none at all. And with ticket prices getting higher and higher, selling a season-ticket package for 20 home games instead of 41 is more affordable for Joe Average.

Like I said, it's not a half-bad idea. I believe there's some major-league precedence for this; back in the 70s or 80s, the NBA franchise that is now the Sacramento Kings spent some time as the Kansas City/Omaha Royals, with a shared arrangement. A similar scheme is being proposed for the Montreal Expos for next season, with them playing in a number of cities. I'm sure plenty of minor league teams do this as well.

Unfortunately, I can see a lot of deterrents here, too. Team owners typically like to own their teams and the arenas, too. It's hard to see this being the case in some sort of shared ownership. Also, while this partly alleviates the problem of doing business in Canadian currency, it doesn't eliminate it. After a couple of years, I'd imagine that the owners would question why they should play any games in Canada at all, when they could move them all to the States. Plus, would fans in either city really embrace a part-time team? Questions, questions.