Last week esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore reported that two groups have inquired about buying the Hawks and Thrashers with the intent of keeping both teams in Atlanta. Which got me to thinking:
The Hawks are 25th in the 30-team NBA in home attendance, averaging 14,613 per date. The Thrashers are 28th in the 30-team NHL in home attendance, averaging 13,031. (Philips Arena seats 18,700 or thereabouts.)
Neither franchise excites the populace. But what if the franchises were handed to an ownership group other than the much-lampooned Atlanta Spirit? Would it make a difference to you, the paying (or non-paying, as the case may be) public?
Ordinarily, I’d suggest that ownership matters little when it comes to buying tickets. (Arthur Blank buying the Falcons was different, but I’d also suggest he was the exception.) But the Spirit has compiled such a worksheet of squabbles and lawsuits and strange personnel decisions that it’s possible these addled owners have contaminated both brands. But if that worksheet were to be wiped clean and a new set of owners to start afresh …
Would you be more inclined to patronize their clubs? Or would you look on these franchises and say, “Eh, they’re still the Hawks/Thrashers”?
I’m asking because I don’t know, and I’m not in a position to know. (I get to go to games for free.) So, as we say in pickup basketball: A little help, please. Let me know how you view it. Because you’re the folks who’ll matter.
With that, I’ll hang up and listen to your answers. And, as ever, I thank you in advance.
By Mark Bradley