Money is the driving force for hockey decisions, but these NHL plans take it to a whole new level
The election of Donald Trump and his plan to close US borders has convinced NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to green light a plan for world expansion. Here is summary of what they are planning.
The NHL will not participate in the Olympics long term
The biggest, most lucrative event in the world is soccer’s World Cup. The NHL plans to follow FIFA’s model to make hockey a dominant (Read – PROFITABLE) business worldwide.
The NHL will only participate in the Olympics over the short term. They would rather own the hockey world cup than participate in the Olympics and share profits. The issue is they don’t have complete control of the player’s union where they could dictate skipping the Olympic Games.
The league was concerned over expansion competition from American based sports football and basketball. They have more resources to expand, but with P.E. Donald Trump’s focus on closing the borders they will have a tough time being excepted in other countries and may upset their domestic fans. This will give the NHL at least 4 years to roll out their World cup expansion plans.
The top line plans are as follows
Increase the size of the ice surface to international dimensions – or bigger.
The debate on rink size has focused on making the game safe verses boring.There is no out of bounds so as players grow larger, stronger, faster (and more expensive) a bigger rink makes sens. Others worry about a boring game with little contact.
Making the ice surface bigger makes more premium seats not less
The decision was simple when architects and accountants got involved. People had assumed a bigger rink cut out the premium seats but in reality it cut out the cheap seats.
They won’t expand on the current rink and knock out the expensive front row seats. They will build a new ice surface above the old one, increasing the number of premium seats that fit around the boards.
Raising the ice surface also brings more fans closer to the game. This upgrades the other seats and VIP boxes for a relatively cheap renovation. Teams could then raise prices on the whole rink and increase revenues by as much as 25%.
In the recent Junior Championships in Montreal ticket prices were priced as much as 10X regular Junior ticket prices. They weren’t worried about filling the stands. They confirmed that hockey execs in any league would rather sell 8,000 tickets x $125 than 20,000 tickets x $30.
Copying the British soccer league’s photo ID tickets will cut out most scalpers. So even with a hefty increase in prices most fans will pay less than they pay scalpers and more fans will be right in the action.
Ticket increases and renovations may not work in smaller markets but they have a plan for this.
Hockey’s Premier League:
For fans who say the NHL should never have expanded past the original six this is for you. The concept is similar to the soccer world where teams and players leave their league to play in different championships.
The NHL will control it all so that the players on the Premier teams and their schedule is set so they never miss a home game with their own team.
Each city will get at least 3 games with premier teams. The number of boring games where players are tired from a compressed schedule are gone. Younger players that fill in on away games can be properly developed at a slower pace than if they have to play all games.
The league will use the premier teams of top players to showcase hockey in other markets. These teams can also tour other continents playing premier league games. The outdoor classics are overdone in North America but they can be taken worldwide for impact.
Showcase Hockey Worldwide.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has members worldwide including Mexico, Japan and China. Mexican teams are regularly playing in Canadian minor hockey tournaments now.
The NHL has the stats that trace the effect of Wayne Gretzky on the sport in the southwest United States. The world economy has made many people wealthy in countries that are looking to the west for sports. The NHL can envision the Gretzky effect if systematically applied worldwide.
China Dragons play home games in 3 cities with a combined population of over 40 million people. NHL teams – Islanders and Sharks have made investments in developing Chinese hockey.
The Premier league games will entice young kids to start playing hockey. Businessmen worldwide will join the NHL to profit on building the sport.
The league has a program in place to build the sport locally. Initially revenue will come from equipment, souvenirs, ice-time, broadcasts, and sponsorship. Ensuring business profits will drive the expansion of hockey.
The league can keep the same name – just pronounce it as the “Naytional” Hockey League like the League of Nations.
Short term there will be some growing pains but as the sport grows the value of world cup will grow and owners, and players will share in the huge profits.
Hockey is a Worldwide Sport Now
Not many people realize how much Hockey has spread worldwide. They just need to build on it and improve the player’s skills.
CURRENT IIHF FUll MEMBER COUNTRIES
|Azerbaijan||Denmark||India||Mongolia||Slovakia||United Arab Emirates|
|Belgium||Finland||Israel||New Zealand||South Africa|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||France||Italy||North Korea||South Korea|
|Chinese Taipei||Hong Kong||Lithuania||Romania||Thailand|
To help bring player’s on-board with the world cup the league is also considering more freedom for players customizing equipment.
Goalies have painted masks and agents have long asked “why can’t other players have painted helmets”. I could help fans identify and relate to their favorite (or most hated) players and be a source of added revenue for the players.
World Cup Profit is Key
The key to NHL’s the plan is the World Cup’s potential for revenue. It has to be so much money that countries and businesses will make the investment in growing the game in their area. If Rinks and equipment are made available to kids and they have superstars to emulate they will play the game.
FIFA just released a plan to expand the number of teams in their tournament to increase revenues by as much as $1billion. This is alone is enough to make Bettman and the NHL execs excited.