Fans have ideas on how to save the Thrashers

I get quite a few e-mails from Thrashers fans with their ideas on how to save the team from leaving Atlanta.

I thought I would share a couple of the correspondence I have received.

1. The five largest locally headquartered sponsors (Delta, Coke, Home Depot, Chik Fil A and UPS) step up and make a commitment to the fans and the team to add $4M to this year’s sponsorship each ($20M) to help the current ASG ownership absorb projected loses while they nail down a new local owner.  These same companies commit to the same level of sponsorship to new owners for five years while the new owners help build the brand.

In turn, the sponsor each get 100 upper bowl and 100 lower bowl season tickets to give to their employees, customers, clients, etc and some sort of added season ticket discount (5-10%) is given to employees of those companies if they buy season tickets.  The companies would also get great PR locally and I am sure nationally through sports media.  They could also work some cross promotions with the team – for example, Coke could do a commercial that shows a PeeWee hockey game with little kids wearing Thrashers jersey.  One kid skates off and mom and dad hand the kid a Coke and the tag line is something like “Coca Cola, committed to the future of hockey in our home town”.

2. Several Thrasher fans would like to offer a challenge to [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman and fellow Thrashers fans.  Before Winnipeg can be approved as a viable NHL location, ten thousand fine citizens of Winnipeg must commit to being season ticket holders for three seasons.

The fine citizens of Thrasherville would like the same opportunity with a twist. …

Mr. Bettman, the fine citizens of Thrasherville would like to play “deal or no deal.”  These are the terms: beginning on a date to be named by you, if 10,000 Thrashers fans commit to being season ticket holders for the next three seasons within a one week period from the “go” date, the NHL comes in and operates the Thrashers.  The ATLANTA SPIRIT L.L.C., IS GONE.  If Thrashers fans fail to reach that goal, you can go honestly state that you gave hockey a “chance” to succeed in Atlanta.  Thrasher fans would like the opportunity to have a “committed to success ownership.”

So the question is rather simple, “deal or no deal?”

What are your thoughts?

160 comments Add your comment

Brendan

May 23rd, 2011
5:10 pm

OHL, it was not true that Ted Turner was the owner in 2003. “Billionaire Ted” was okay, nearly as soon as he was in. When Turner sold off his assets, the hockey team went to Time/Warner. And Time/Warner with a hockey team … is a lot like a “mule with a spinning wheel.” No one knows how he got it. And darned if he knows what to do with it.

So, there we were. And bear something in mind, by 2003, the Thrashers were supposed to be ADDING pieces and payroll. Instead, they played a game of “zero sum economics,” whereby they let players like Andrew Brunette, Steve Staios, and Donald Audette go. Were these players asking for the moon and stars? No. Not hardly. In most cases, they wanted a ten-percent raise. Which the ownership declined. So, it was Heatley, Stefan, and Kovalchuk, with Ray Ferraro, and nothing much else, in those early, formative years. And the results showed that. Hardly a “blueprint” for building a Cup winner. Fans quickly surmized, “They’re not really trying, are they? Look at our budget!”

Bingo! And when word circulates that ownership is clueless and unwilling to spend, the desire to invest capital in those “clueless and unwilling to spend” declines, rather than increases. Finally, some life was breathed back into the franchise after the lockout, when GM Waddell went to the Spirit and asked for a Max Cap, and GOT IT! Gee, 5 years after inception!!! What did Waddell do? He iced the 2nd oldest and slowest team in the “new” NHL, that emphasized youth and speed. An almost ‘forgiveable’ offense, except that Waddell SAT ON THE RULES COMMITTEE!!!

After the team got swept out of the playoffs, after making 4 devastating trade deadline deals, the team failed to fire Waddell, and embarked on another 4-5 year building project, which the ownership emphatically denied was occuring. And on and on it goes, with this group.

Les Habitants

May 23rd, 2011
5:29 pm

If Thrasher fans really want to issue a challenge, it should be done on the standard of a successful team. As such, in my city, season ticket for a nosebleed seat goes for CAD 1 213 and CAD 8 459 for one by the glass, center (tax and services extra). Let us make their average and in USD, we get around $ 5000. Make that a three-year commitment, we get $ 15000.

Do you seriously think you will be able to find ten thousand Thrasher fans willing to commit $15000?

cory

May 23rd, 2011
5:58 pm

winnipeg would sell 15000 season tickets before you guys

Getthepuckouttahere

May 23rd, 2011
6:05 pm

All these ideas, good or bad mean nothing. This team is leaving, what’s so hard to understand? Last ditch efforts, rallies, petitions and the tooth fairy aren’t saving them, let them dot the i’s and cross the t’s and put this out of it’s misery already. Being it’s Victoria Day in Canada and the banks are closed I’d be willing to bet that Spirit Group would take a posted check and a handshake if it meant getting this deal done. And the last of the local interest in this team is out…it’s over!

Getthepuckouttahere

May 23rd, 2011
6:09 pm

In case you missed this interview with Levenson, check it out. If you aren’t convinced that he wants out of this town, out of hockey and wished he never got into it in the first place then I don’t know what to tell you. Hell, he asks fans to send him a buyer if they know of one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiV4eCYHsyA

OHL

May 23rd, 2011
6:17 pm

Brendan,

Your facts don’t line up. Yes, it was Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner that owned the team, not Ted himself. But if Turner Broadcasting couldn’t do well, what makes you think that Coke, Delta or Home Depot will (see option #1 above).

Again, I compare you to Columbus. If you say you didn’t do well because of a poor product, why couldn’t you pack the house as well as Columbus did? You have 5.3 million people and a slew of Fortune 500 companies. They have a million and a half people and Wendy’s. Yet they developed a hockey market and you didn’t.

Getthepuckouttahere

May 23rd, 2011
6:20 pm

EA

May 23rd, 2011
9:35 am
EA wrote…This 200 at a rally mantra is a way to diminish Atlanta fans again. It was organized 2 days out. It fell over graduation weekend for a lot of schools. It was hot. Many schools got out on Friday so there are people who may have chosen to take advantage of starting a vacation before the schools up north get out. It was one event. The reasons are many. Give it a rest.

This was broadcast on the local news, there were articles about it in the AJC as well. Gary Bettman heard about it and said he’d be interested to see how many people showed up to it and he isn’t even in Atlanta.
This is a prime example of passing the buck, blaming everyone else, it’s their fault, it’s his fault, but it’s not the fans fault at all…oh no, they shouldn’t be held accountable at all, even if this is the second franchise to fail here.
You had a team go to the playoffs yet they lost $20 million bucks…it’s management’s fault, they give away 2-1 tickets the day of the game to get people to go, it’s management’s fault. I have a question…was it a big, well kept secret there was an NHL team playing in downtown Atlanta? Let me guess, you didn’t get the memo and it’s management’s fault too right? And you wonder why no one wants to buy this team locally. What a joke.

Getthepuckouttahere

May 23rd, 2011
6:29 pm

@OHL…that’s a perfect example..Columbus. Half the market Atlanta is, yet they are on the brink of losing their second franchise, and again, it’s management’s fault!

Getthepuckouttahere

May 23rd, 2011
6:49 pm

Jimmy wrote…TAMPABAY LIGHTENING, New Owner with $$, New General Manager, New Coach, 35,000,000.000 in Improvements to the St. Pete Times forum, Playing in the Eastern Conference championship and I still don’t trust the NHL for what they are doing to Atlanta…All you secure Canadian teams teams, don’t think it can’t happan to you…”Lightening fan” living in Florida

There is so many things wrong with this I just don’t know where to start. I will say if the Lightning (not Lightening) had 39 Billion to kick around they could have purchased the entre NHL with plenty of change leftover.
If I was a Tampa Bay fan I’d certainly know it’s two words, not one, especially if I lived in Florida. Wow.

OHL

May 23rd, 2011
7:59 pm

Getthepuckouttahere,

I’ve been on these boards to monitor the whole situation. But one thing I’ve learned that really impressed me is how well Columbus supported hockey. I had no idea. I’ve heard many people around me say “Toronto should have Nash” or “Ottawa should have Mason” and on and on. But I will quickly point out how untrue that is now. Unfortunately for these boards it only shows that you can’t blame ownership/mgt/Bettman for anything. But I will root for Columbus to do well now.

Getthepuckouttahere

May 23rd, 2011
8:38 pm

OHL…It’s great how Columbus quickly endeared that hockey team, Nashville too, who would have thought? But the fact remains fan suppoort here is minimal, not to mention they quickly walked out the door when the team started losing. What they don’t understand is the simple arithmetic, if you don’t attend games and spend money you can’t expect ownership to constantly foot the bill, it’s a business. After reading these threads all I see is a select few blaming the ownership group and it infuriates me to no end. Only now do they put all these so-called ideas out there when it’s time to pack up the sticks and uniforms and update the visa’s. It’s a joke. I went to 3 games, none were close to sellouts, yet the arena piped in crowd noise when the team was announced. When the lights were turned back on all you saw was a half empty arena and fans that supported the away team easily matched those who were there for the home team, that’s sad. Dont blame management because seats were empty, everyone knew that team was in Atlanta so let’s forget about the way this team was sold to the public, you can easily use that argument for any team in Atlanta.

OHL

May 23rd, 2011
8:53 pm

Getthepuckouttahere,

It’s great to see that there is some life down there. But what you need is about 1000x more support than what you have here on this blog. I feel bad for those in Atlanta because I would hate it too. But in the end, I look at the facts and I see a sport that was doomed from the get-go and it was before ownership/mgt/team issues even started. Is Nashville out of the question for you guys? I hope so.

cory

May 23rd, 2011
10:23 pm

hockey =canada=winnipeg jet=cup

Billsen

May 23rd, 2011
11:01 pm

OHL – nice how you mention attendance figure to determine if a team belongs in a market. By your rational, Pittsburgh should have lost the Pens – in 03-04 they were last in the league. Chicago should have lost the Blackhawks – in 05-06 AND 06-07 they were 29th. How about them amazin’ Caps? 27th in the league in 06-07, the same year the Bruins were 25th. In 07-08, the Bruins went down to 26th.

These are all “traditional hockey markets” but somehow the Thrashers outdrew all of those teams those years. Please, explain to me how that was possible.

OHL

May 23rd, 2011
11:20 pm

Billsen, you are taking 1 year snapshots when you should be looking at decade long trends. Those teams all had bumps in the road but have shown in other years they will support a team.

1 year after Boston fell to 26th, they were 16th. That is why you can’t just look at 1 year. Have the Thrashers ever shown they can climb in attendance like that?

I had shown 10 years of Atlanta statistics. You showed 1 year for certain clubs. I have also referred to things like tv ratings. I have compared you to Columbus who had the exact same product that you had. If you showed up at the arena like Blue Jacket fans and you watched hockey on tv like the Columbus market you wouldn’t be saying goodbye to your team.

coldsoul

May 24th, 2011
12:05 am

What the Thrashers fans need to get through there heads is THAT YOU NEED AN OWNER. The team moving has nothing to do with Winnipeg and the fact no one here can figure out that 97 does not equal 2011. Oh my ticket prices went up? Guess what so have housing prices, the population, the economy is doing great- things change just as they might in the future. Winnipeg will have to lock in around 10,000 fans for 3 years at real NHL prices not buy one get one free. If ATL could do the same Gary would do anything to keep a team in ATL as it is a far bigger POTENTIAL market and there is no disputing that fact.

For the sake of the argument lets say the NHL in WPG is a horrible idea and that WPG is not a true hockey hotbed like ATL how does that change ATL not having an owner? You need someone to cover the losses (PHX has glendale)- and having 200 people showing up to a rally does not show that support. Why would coke invest 4 million in the team they could give free coke for a year to every one of the Thrashers fans for less than a 100k.

THIS IS ABOUT ATL NOT WPG. If WPG fails ATL can’t turn around and tell the NHL we told you so, as the response will be told us what? That we should have lost money in ATL with no owner instead of moving a team to WPG which cost us no money and at least gave us a shot at viable market.

coldsoul

May 24th, 2011
12:08 am

No way to edit a post so here it is:

Attendance figures just give you a glimpse into the economics they do not determine if a team moves or not. AS STATED ABOVE IT IS ABOUT $$$$. Start talking about that and you will see why ATL is moving PHX got lucky but Glendale got screwed. If WPG bleeds $$$ they will move bottom line- it is pointless to argue this point as it has nothing to do with ATL moving.

Crazy Diamond

May 24th, 2011
1:50 am

PLEASE! Someone put us out of our misery!

Andrew51

May 24th, 2011
2:11 am

@ Billsen
Listen to OHL, you’ll learn something.
OHL points to the real issues that seem very hard for some to understand and/or accept.

I’ll add only this:  If you take TV out of the equation (pointless considering how monstrous, yet overlooked a factor it is) and consider the Penguins from the era you described no better off than the modern era Thrashers, you’ll notice a crucial difference – someone did step up and invest in them with the intention of keeping them in their city of origin because it was an attractive investment.  As many of you who love the Thrashers as there are, it’s a business before a sport, attendance is not the only factor that weighs into that and it is NOT an *attractive* investment in Atlanta.

Andrew51

May 24th, 2011
2:16 am

@GaVaHokie

Sincere congratulations on finding the definition of revenue sharing using google…now please go us one better (some-thing….the opposite of no-thing) and explain what bearing the concept has on the topic of discussion.

Andrew51

May 24th, 2011
2:19 am

@GaVaHokie
True North’s top dog is worth 22 Billion (that’s billion, with a “b”) *MORE* than any current NHL owner….I’m no economist, but I’m guessing he’s not the type who will be in need of a handout…..ever.

The “hold up” has nothing to do with the relocation fee, in fact,  sources are now suggesting that the NHL quietly approved the sale and transfer of the Thrashers *months* ago. 

The banks have simply been closed in Winnipeg the last 3 days due to the long weekend and therefore transfer of millions has been unavailable.  

Jeremy

May 24th, 2011
3:02 am

I can tell you the problem people. Why do we have minor league teams 40 Minutes away from the NHL or MLB teams? Do you know Thrashers attendance started going down hill once minor league team showed up. Get Gwinnett Gladiators out of town. Having other teams near by is killing attendance for NHL and MLb in Atlanta. They get close to 5,000 a game. Do you know if they went to Thrashers games we would be up with Pittsburgh and NYR in attendance at close to 19,000 a game? 4

eugene

May 24th, 2011
3:59 am

you can’t compare Columbus Blue Jackets with the Atlanta Thrashers. The Blue Jackets had a passionate owner who lived and breathed Hockey. After he died, things haven’t been so great for the franchise. The owner’s family have been trying to sell the Blue Jackets but no one wants to buy them in that market.

eugene

May 24th, 2011
4:03 am

Pittsburgh almost got sold to a group who wanted to move the team to Kansas City. The sale was cancelled when it was announced that PIttsburgh won the Sidney Crosby lottery. If the Thrashers had gotten Crosby and Malkin, there wouldn’t be any talk of relocating. Pittsburgh purposely tanked those seasons to get Crosby.

Billsen

May 24th, 2011
7:41 am

What YOU fail to understand OHL, is that winning is the best marketing a team can have. Even in those traditional markets I mentioned, if the team stinks, the fans stayed at home. That’s not spin – that’s pure fact.

Billsen

May 24th, 2011
7:45 am

Oh, and how about this fact – the Thrashers have NEVER been lower than 28th in the league. Can’t say that about the Islanders or Yotes, but yet where is the demand that the Islanders move to Canada? Even when QC sent all their fans to that Islanders game – they seemed to only covet Atlanta, as if the Islanders were untouchable.

What a load of crud.

Ukyo(ths)

May 24th, 2011
8:31 am

When they move they are going to fail in Winnipeg. The numbers just do not work, and the government will only keep them floating so long. Billionaires don’t stay billionaires by forking over money hand over fist so some die hards can see a salary cap floor team duel it out for 27th in the league. Minority billionaire backer or not, they do no have an arena that can support the current salary cap. The quickest way to become a millionaire hockey owner in Winnipeg is to start off as a billionaire. There is no way the disposable income in Winnipeg has increased 200% in 15 years. You guys paid bargain basement prices to wath your team and then cried when they left. Nothing is going to change.

Sure, you will rally the first couple of seasons and might even get close to breaking even, but it nor a sustainable model. Best of luck. You are really going to need it along with a metric ton of revenue sharing and corporate support. 15,000 seats, even at $75 average, won’t even bring you to the floor for salary requirements.

ATL Observer

May 24th, 2011
9:46 am

@Ukyo(ths) …… where did those #s come from? I can’t find yearly rankings on ticket revenue anywhere…..

GaVaHokie

May 24th, 2011
10:03 am

Andrew51… http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/province-gets-behind-bid-for-nhl-team-122138329.html

Just because someone is a billionaire doesn’t mean he’s ready to field all debt for a hockey franchise.

ATL Observer

May 24th, 2011
10:15 am

and I’m not questioning/not questioning Ukyo(ths)’ numbers, just want to actually have a look at the league as a whole at the time!

I *can* say that Tony Keller’s analysis (which favors 12 CAN teams) has Winnipeg’s high income household ranking below any CAN city that currently has a team and a “markedly lower” after-tax household income than Edmonton. So it’s not entirely a slam-dunk.

What it *is* is a slam dunk for the first 5-10 years. There’s NO way this won’t look good from 2012-2021. The love affair will be strong and people will pay whatever they have to pay.

Still…would love to see those early 90s ticket revenue #s!

Dwayne

May 24th, 2011
11:35 am

Atlanta Spirit Ass Clowns bio will read: Most influential person, John Gacy.

OHL

May 24th, 2011
11:46 am

Billsen, when you say “Oh, and how about this fact – the Thrashers have NEVER been lower than 28th in the league.” it just shows how bad things are when you brag about being #28 out of 30 because at least you weren’t last or 2nd to last.

As for the Coyotes, I have never defended Phoenix staying there. However, the fact that someone ponied up $25 million puts them ahead of you. As for the Isles, well they get more in tv revenue from Fox Sports NY and/or MSG+ then you can ever dream of getting from SportsSouth. That alone brings them to break even with the horrible attendance they have. Now add in that Wang is going to get a vote in a special election this summer for a new arena and surrounding area that will bring in major revenue. That makes the Isles a good investment to stay put whereas Atlanta can’t match what they have.

OHL

May 24th, 2011
11:49 am

eugene,

Columbus was the #10 tv market for this year’s 2011 Winter Classic. They have placed very high in other tv ratings for things like the Stanley Cup Finals, Olympics, regional Blue Jacket games. That’s when Columbus had a bad owner even. Atlanta never showed any good numbers for anything, attendance or tv ratings, even when they were owned by Turner Broadcasting.

Andrew51

May 24th, 2011
11:50 am

@ GaVaHokie

…………………So what’s your point? The building is a public asset – lol
They asked, and it’ll get approved because the province sees nothing but a good investment – sorry, but that’s something no one in Atlanta sees locally (read realistically).

When the strong Winnipeg numbers do actually come out, denial won’t be just a river in Egypt anymore…

Billsen

May 24th, 2011
11:53 am

Whatever OHL – Despite the rosy picture most of the Winnipeggers paint of the past, the best Jets NHL attendance from 79-96 was only 87.3% capacity (13.592 in the 86-87 season). The Jets only averaged over 13,000 fans 9 times in 17 seasons which isn’t much better than what Atlanta has done.

Spin that.

Andrew51

May 24th, 2011
11:55 am

@Ukyo(ths)

Pray every night before bedtime that it does fail….
It’ll make losing the Thrashers easier to take right?

PS: It’ll be wildly successful.

OHL

May 24th, 2011
11:56 am

GaVaHokie,

Isn’t your Philips Arena (home of your Thrashers) funded with public bonds? Correct me if I’m wrong. But I’ve read that many times because the Hawks are tied to the bonds, thus staying put, whereas the Thrashers aren’t, thus they can relocate. Point being is that your city used public money as well even though a billion $ company like Turner Broadcasting owned the team(s).

OHL

May 24th, 2011
12:02 pm

Billsen,

I’m not from Winnipeg, I’m just laying out the truth as to why Atlanta is losing their team and it has not performed well as a hockey market. I’m actually for keeping the team in Columbus. I’m actually for keeping the team in Nashville. I’m actually for keeping the team in Tampa Bay even. Atlanta and Miami on the other hand should move. Dallas and Carolina I’m fine with now. Phoenix is tricky because if the public funding makes them profitable it’s hard to argue.

ATL Observer

May 24th, 2011
12:46 pm

>>>As for the Coyotes, I have never defended Phoenix staying there.
>>>However, the fact that someone ponied up $25 million puts them ahead of you.

After being given two years to do so…

radeksmom

May 24th, 2011
1:05 pm

you know i like to see all the same regulars freek fans on here. They thought the Thrasher management and coaching staff would listen to their stupid line changes and comments about staff changes. Now they are on here talking ways to save the Thrashers thinking the NHL is listening to their stupid ideas. Dont you get it nobody cares. This is not some democracy your input is not welcome.

OHL

May 24th, 2011
1:31 pm

ATL Observer,

Actually not 2 years, was the arena even built 2 years ago? More importantly, I think it just shows the difference between the 2 local govt’s approach. In Phoenix, the arena was built just for hockey, no Suns games there, so they NEED the team there. So that comes into play. But in Atlanta, it’s an afterthought by your politicians, and maybe they are right. But someone on here said it as well, if it was the Hawks, maybe people would be up in arms (people from the gov’t that is). Point still stands though, your numbers were low even when Turner Broadcasting owned the team, so maybe that’s why no local owners are stepping up other than Glavine who will only put a minority stake in the team.

Relocationist

May 24th, 2011
1:55 pm

Here’s something few people talk about. Any move of an NHL team means the NHL is moving from one marginally viable market to another. There are no ’sure things’ out there as far as NHL markets go. Winnipeg has a small population, already lost one franchise and the arena is small. KC? You gotta be kidding. Vegas? No way. There simply aren’t 30 markets in North America that can support NHL hockey on a year to year basis. One really great market that everyone seems to ignore is the northern arc of ATL above I-285. But, it wouldn’t be PC to put an arena there. PHX and ATL are this year’s problems for Mr Bettman. On the horizon loom issues with Florida and Columbus. The Islanders and Devils aren’t really tough tickets to get, either.

Leighton Batuste

May 24th, 2011
2:00 pm

Has the Thrashers organization ever thought about maybe putting in the money for better players and maybe getting a new and better coach so that we can win then more people would come to the games and we could be playoff contenders every year. They did it with the Hawks, the Braves and the Falcons soooo why not the Thrashers.

da' boomer

May 24th, 2011
2:00 pm

No ASG or Waddell…I would commit to a 3 years package..

da' boomer

May 24th, 2011
2:03 pm

I’d buy an extra year if I could kidney punch Ed Peskowitz

Surething

May 24th, 2011
4:04 pm

@ Relocationist

No, Winnipeg is a sure thing.

James

May 24th, 2011
8:47 pm

What happened to Tom Glavine’s interest in being part of a group that would keep the Thrashers in Atlanta? How about Glavine and Ted Turner ? Everyone Knows that Turner has the money. He let down the city of Atlanta in 1980, he had the money to keep the Flames in Atlanta. Tom Glavine and some of Turner’s pocket change could easily keep the team in Atlanta.

Billsen

May 24th, 2011
8:51 pm

Since “only 200″ Islander fans showed up to show support for a new arena on Long Island, I wonder how long it will be before they lose their team to Winnipeg?

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/coliseum-advocates-build-it-now-1.2895712?qr=1

OHL

May 24th, 2011
10:03 pm

Billsen,

Let’s see how many Long Islanders vote for the new arena. Also, the Isles get far too much $$ from MSG+ that the Thrashers couldn’t be in their class with the much smaller amount you receive from SportsSouth.

Ukyo(ths)

May 24th, 2011
11:20 pm

The numbers come from the NHL Marketing Report.

Anyone else find it odd that the trolls never have an answer for the facts as to why the Jets failed to start with, and how they are oblivious to the fact that not a whole lot has changed. As noted, the league got a lot more expensive in the last 15 years. The economy may hold up a couple of seasons, but reality always interferes when a dream comes true.