NHL Rumor Mill – Portland Winterhawks Soon To Have Company?

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I stumbled across an interesting story that caught my eye the other day – and I am not even a fan of the National Hockey League. Simply put, hockey just isn’t my sport. Multiple news outlets reported that the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL were considering a relocation strategy after the current deal they had on the table fell through due to some financing issues, probably some politics and I’m sure other reasons.

Why not come to the Pacific Northwest? Along with Portland it is believed officials of the Coyotes also visited Seattle for the same consideration.

So, is this for real? What does this mean for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League and what does this mean for the Moda Center? Why is someone who doesn’t even like hockey writing about it? I will answer those questions and more – hopefully briefly, but I will probably ramble a bit.

MY REASON OF INTEREST

I may not like hockey, however, I am extremely interested in facility management, stadium contracts and all things associated with that stem of the sports, events & entertainment industry. For that reason – this story intrigues me. The weighing of options, the financial discussions and the ramifications of uprooting an entire franchise is pretty in depth, heavy stuff, and being part of those negotiations and decisions would be totally epic.

Why do the play hockey in a suburb of Phoenix anyway? The Coyotes are third in the league in attendance, have the second-worst record in the Western Conference at 17-28-6, which means they have 40 points, apparently. Wow, this sport is awkward.

WHY MOVE TO THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST?

From a geographical standpoint, both Portland and Seattle would make sense. Vancouver, Canada is right there! I am sure the Canadian province of British Columbia has produced some talented hockey players over the years. Why not bring another team up here?

Several years ago, the NHL explored bringing a franchise into Portland, but ultimately decided against it. Without knowing the details of why they made that decision, I would guess it would have had something to do with market potential, the size of the population and general feasibility of sustaining a successful franchise in that location. Portland has since grown in population and size – and continues to grow every year. I see more cranes downtown than ever, building new things and expanding. Beaverton and Hillsboro are adding schools, roads and housing properties as well, so maybe the NHL noticed?

Not to mention – a really strong following of Winterhawks fans are already here. I remember the first time I ran into some Winterhawks fans, I thought they were wearing Chicago Blackhawk jerseys, and they proceeded to tell me a long-winded story of how there is a slight difference in some lines on the logo and how the person who designed it used to work for the Blackhawks or something to that extent.

Long story short – there is already a fan base here that would support an NHL team, and transplants from all across the country all moving here every day. (Some might like hockey)

HOW THE WINTERHAWKS WOULD BE AFFECTED

(It may very well be effected…I get that grammar rule wrong every time, and the more I look it up, the more confused I get. Just in case I will retype it using the other format so at least I am correct once.)

HOW THE WINTERHAWKS WOULD BE EFFECTED

As of right now, the Winterhawks use either Veteran’s Memorial stadium and the Moda Center. They are literally right next door to each other, so choosing one over the other isn’t a logistical inconvenience, but obviously, there is a quality of venue discrepancy. If an NHL team comes to Portland, it is my guess, the Winterhawks would exclusively use Veteran’s – barring maybe a special event here or there if the Moda is available.

The Moda Center would have a pretty full winter docket with home games from the Trail Blazers and the hypothetical ‘Coyotes’. Would that effect/affect (I hate this keeps coming up) the fiscal situation and the success of the Winterhawks? I have no idea…I would like to say having both a junior hockey team AND an NHL team in town would benefit each other, but we would have to see.

Like one of those bird-and giraffe situations, or the sharks with the little fish that cling onto them type of arrangements where both parties benefit is obviously what I would hope for. Those are weird analogies, but you get the idea.

FINAL WORD

The Moda Center seats 19,600 humans (I assume only people, but I do believe in aliens and people do bring dogs weird places around here) versus the 12,888-seat venue at Veteran’s Memorial. The highest capacity NHL arena is the Bell Centre in Montreal (21,288), followed by the Joe Louis arena in Detroit (20,027) and the United Center in Chicago (19,700).

The Moda Center would have the fourth largest capacity in the league – unless there is some sort of seat-reducing measure when it gets converted to an ice arena, but I don’t know. (I feel like I should know that, though.) Anyways, would the Portland-Metro area be able to pull enough fans to fill a hockey venue with the likes of the Montreal Canadiens, the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks?

That’s a lot of combined championships.

I think it is possible for the `Portland Coyotes’ to draw enough to cover the financial demands of everyone involved in this franchise relocation. There are probably some feasibility studies or matrices that graph and illustrate this point to validate whether the Moda Center and Portland is a plausible home for the Arizona Coyotes to relocate here.

The Coyotes aren’t doing anything right at the moment, so maybe it’s time for a change. I’m sure Oregonians and Washingtonians alike would welcome an NHL franchise with open arms – especially current Winterhawks fans.

Hey, at least we wouldn’t have to change the name of the team – we have coyotes here too! This video filmed in Portland comes courtesy of one of my favorite bands – Modest Mouse. They ride the MAX!

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About Author

Hello friends of the Pacific Northwest! I am still learning the ways of the west coast sports, but I have quickly grown fond of many of your sports team and I really enjoy writing about them all! I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania – not Philadelphia. 95% of the people I meet in Oregon assume I’m from Philadelphia. I went to college in Miami, Fla., moved to Denver, Colo. Before moving to Jamestown, N.Y. (south of Buffalo) where I was a sportswriter for the local newspaper for three years. I got involved with the YMCA and was a youth sports director for six years at several different branches. Working with kids is fun…and I enjoy it, but writing sports stories is usually more fun – unless I don’t have a topic to write about in mind. Then playing basketball with third graders is way more fun. I have evolved into a Blazers fan, and am a HUGE fan of Terry Stotts. I like the Seahawks and the Ducks. The Mariners are cool too. Baseball is my favorite sport and my favorite teams are the Miami Marlins, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Heat and the Indianapolis Colts. (When you grow up with a bunch of Steeler fans, you have to be a rebel and I really liked Marshall Faulk) I look forward to learning and writing about the sports scene here in Washington and Oregon. Go Blazers, Go Ducks, Go Mariners, Go Hawks! And I guess those Beavers, Timbers and Hops are floating around somewhere too.

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