Sunday, November 09, 2008

Counting the cash without the team

They have no uniforms, they have no rink, nor players as well, yet the mythical second team for Toronto is already considered one of the top four franchises in the NHL, not surprising in a league that seems to be adventurous with its financials these days.

While Nashville continues to try and sort out its financial state and the Sunbelt teams play in front of less than full houses, the prospect of a second team for Toronto has financial analysts dreaming with dollar signs in their thoughts.

The Globe and Mail provided the review of a Chicago based sports consultant who divined that should one be granted, a second franchise in Toronto would have an instant value of between 400 and 600 million dollars ranking it just below Toronto and New York and on the same level with both Montreal and Detroit, not bad company for a team that doesn’t even exist today.

And the good news continues for Toronto, the Leafs would be instant winners as the relocation and indemnification fees are expected to fetch perhaps close to 250 million dollars for the right to set up shop in the same sphere of Google earth as the Maple Leafs.

That’s a rather steep rise in the curve of franchise encroachment, the last time an owner was reimbursed for having his territory invaded, the fee was but 25 million dollars from Mickey Mouse and company, when Anaheim put some cash into Bruce McNall’s wallet.

Since then the NHL has been busy populating the desert and Deep South with franchises with less than a stampede through the turnstiles.

Still, the idea of a hockey team in the leagues most hockey mad market with the lure of television money is one that continues to stoke the fires of imagination.

And if the league is hesitant to let some billionaire set up shop, there’s always the courts, while some of the league governors are giving the idea consideration, the Leafs most likely aren’t one of them and its thought that the league would be most chagrined at any attempt to poach some prime money making from MLSE.
It’s believed that any court challenge would eventually prove to be successful, though a drawn out affair , all in a bid to force the hand of Gary Bettman and the protectors of the Maple Leaf brand. Call it a hostile admission, one that would come with some expensive lawyer’s fees to tack onto the cost of vanity.

Even after all of that the cost of success might be daunting, whether from rental payments to MLSE for use of the Air Canada centre or from the construction of a stand alone arena somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area, the initial outlay of cash would seem to be an endless exercise in cheque writing.

It may very well prove to be a success if it ever takes place, but in the short term it seems that the only winners of a second Toronto team would be the first Toronto team, who would be counting the cash at every turn of a turnstile.

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