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Report: Saskatoon interested in landing NHL franchise

Mar 1, 2012, 3:19 PM EDT


TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting “there have been expressions of interest from parties” in Saskatoon to land an NHL franchise.

Stop laughing, it’s rude.

…interested parties in Saskatoon have contacted the league and suggested there are individuals or parties in Saskatoon who would be willing to ante up the required purchase fee while various levels of government in Saskatchewan would make necessary arrangements to expand and make NHL-suitable the 15,800-seat Credit Union Centre.

Even though Saskatoon’s actual population is around 250,000 — which at face value would seem to be far too small to support an NHL franchise — the Saskatoon interests are pitching that an NHL franchise there would be supported by the entire province and it would be a viable operation.

With all due respect, no, it wouldn’t.

First of all, the entire population of Saskatchewan is barely a million. The city of Regina is approximately the same size as Saskatoon, but it’s a three-hour drive away. Oh, and here’s what that drive can look like during the winter:


Secondly, the Credit Union Centre (opened in 1988) isn’t even close to NHL caliber.


So let’s go ahead and put this to bed now. This isn’t 1983 when the Blues nearly moved to Saskatoon. The economics of the league have changed a touch since then.

Go Riders.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 1, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    That’s probably what the drive would look like all season long. I want there to be more Canadian teams, but yeah, this is a pretty far-fetched idea.

  2. t16rich - Mar 1, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Imagine Saskatchewan Roughriders fans getting a pro hockey team. That arena would be one insane atmosphere. With that being said, the closest Saskatchewan ever gets to the NHL is a few summers ago when Wang sent the Islanders training camp there.

  3. icelovinbrotha215 - Mar 1, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Yea, that’s wishful thinking. The fanbase is probably as passionate as any other legitimate NHL town, but a city has to think as host. You want outsiders being as comfortable as the locals. Idk if Sask is the place to be.

  4. pavelfitzgerald - Mar 1, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Jason, you mock this idea yet Bettman putting a team in Phoenix was logical?
    I completely agree that this would be hard to work but crazier things have happened ala NHL in Phoenix. I wouldn’t be soo skeptical

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 1, 2012 at 6:43 PM

      Phoenix is about 14 times the size of Saskatoon. Just a few more people. Yeah Phoenix and Atlanta are disasters, but I give credit to Bettman for trying to grow the sport. As with any market, Florida and Tampa Bay will support their teams if they start winning. Look at Tampa last year. As for Florida they have made the playoffs once since Minnesota and Columbus joined the league, and that was their first seasons.

      I could think of other markets before Saskatoon to get teams. Maybe if they expand to 50 teams we can talk.

  5. philliesblow - Mar 1, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    This needs to happen just because

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 1, 2012 at 5:50 PM

      there’s a small town where nothing much ever happens called Saskatoon.

  6. DTF31 - Mar 1, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Saskatoon is going to be the next big Canadian city (70billion in corporate investment in the last 5 years) but it’s still at least 10 years away. It’s not a world class city no matter how much it would like to be

  7. atwatercrushesokoye - Mar 1, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    With all due respect to the fine folks in Saskatoon, they’re insane if they think this has any possibility of happening. The reason the football team draws so well is because it has 9 home games (10 including preseason) and those games are spaced out between July and November, with most being played on or around the weekend. That’s a lot different than having 41 home games, some being every other night, from October to April.

    If Saskatoon is serious about pro hockey, they should try to attract the AHL franchise of either the Flames or Oilers (perhaps the Flames could relocate their team to Saskatoon and Vancouver could move their team to Abbotsford?) although then you’d either be seriously hurting or even killing the WHL Blades.

  8. vipod4ever - Mar 1, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    ok, Green Bay has a pop. of 282k, lets all laugh at the cheese heads. I would bet on Sask. more so then on Columbus, Phoenix, Florida combined.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 1, 2012 at 6:46 PM

      Except for Phoenix your other teams would draw well if they actually had a competitive team. Just like any other sport in any other market, if you win, the fans will come. Look at the Minnesota Timberwolves. They have sucked since 2004-05, they hit not even .500 but close to it, they sell out. Florida hasn’t made the playoffs since 2000-01. They will start to draw if they are close to the playoffs.

    • quizguy66 - Mar 1, 2012 at 6:48 PM

      they play 10 games a year in Green Bay (including preseason), not 41 (really 43 with NHL preseason). Milwaukee is 2 hours away and has 600,000 people in the city (and another 350,000 in Milwaukee county). The NFL TV contract makes it much easier for out of market fans to follow the team. It’s a ridiculous comparison.


      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Mar 1, 2012 at 8:07 PM

        Green Bay may have a little more history in football than Saskatoon does in hockey…

      • firstandonlywarning - Mar 2, 2012 at 2:08 PM


        Forgot about the fact that it has nothing to do with #’s games played at home but how much money is spent by the populace to go to the games

        You say 10 games a year vs 41 like that’s cut and dry, when a ticket to a NFL game in GB is 3-4 times more expensive than hockey.

        People in markets have X # of dollars to spend on pro sport.
        Hockey would be more sustainable in Sask than the failed attempts in Phoenix and Atlanta.

        That being said Sask is still behind QC, Portland, Seattle, KC, and Hamilton.

        But as usual JB trashes a Canadian city and is actually MOCKING Bob McKenzie. And declaring in essence that he knows more about the NHL than Bob

        Bob freaking McKenzie >>> ME >>> most hockey fans >>> JB

  9. pavelfitzgerald - Mar 1, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    “Great”sportsmind -I never said anything anything about population size, I said it was ignorant to mock the idea. Gary’s idea of “growing” the game has been a 15 year experiment failing miserably. You mentioned the Phoenix & Atlanta as examples of expanding – they’ve failed miserably & are perfect examples of how bigger is not always bigger.
    I am impressed with the Nashville market working out considering they are what most people would call a “non-traditional” hockey market

  10. firstandonlywarning - Mar 1, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Jason B showing himself to be an ignorant American (again)

    How did you guys convince NBC that you know hockey? seriously

    • AppealToReason - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:44 PM

      Brough’s Canadian homeboy. If Saskatoon could support a team then so could Red Deer or Halifax and that isn’t happening.

  11. blomfeld - Mar 1, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    “LET US PRAY” friends …

    No doubt, the writer of this article obviously “oozes” with contempt and venom towards the Canadian people … and he’s completely misguided ! If we’re to follow his logic of basing NHL franchises in the “biggest” population centers, then would it not be logical to transplant the entire league to China or India ? Absolute “idiocy” I say ! Saskatoon would be a wonderful relocation site for one of the “15 plus” financially ailing US-based teams ! Look .. I’m a normal, decent, values-driven, tax-paying, Canadian man who also happens to be an ardent supporter of the LA Kings, despite living but a “brisk” 30 minute walk from Rogers Arena here in Vancouver. Yet even I know that relocating one of the sick American franchises currently on financial life-support , makes complete and total sense ! I like American people very much and to me they’re our brothers. I therefore know for a fact, that the average, decent, values-driven, tax-paying, American fan would welcome such a move to Saskatoon. So let’s just pray friends, that this can somehow become a reality !

  12. lostpuppysyndrome - Mar 2, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    Riders suck. Go Bombers.

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