Skip to main content

Introducing the Balsilliemeter

With the emotional rush of the past couple days having passed, it's time to take a bit of a sober view towards the future of hockey here in Nashville. While our good friends north of the border are already in full-gloat over the prospect of luring the Predators to southern Ontario, I'd like to put aside the speculation and consider how Jim Balsillie might actually work out as an NHL owner, particularly in respect to the fans in Nashville.

On the one hand, he seems to be exactly the kind of owner the NHL would desire - young, loaded with cash generated as a captain of modern industry, a recreational hockey player who has long wanted to own a team, Balsillie has the potential to help move the league forward in a manner completely opposite to the dead weight that is Chicago Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz.

On the other hand, Balsillie clearly desires to move a team to either Hamilton or the Kitchener-Waterloo region, as was the case with his aborted takeover of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Given Craig Leipold's declared financial losses over the years, it's easy to conclude that the only reason Balsillie is paying $220 million for an unprofitable team is for the opportunity to move it to a community that's willing to pay any price to see pro hockey. Add in the tremendous appreciation in the Canadian dollar over the last 5 years, and those hockey-mad fans actually have some genuine purchasing power to throw around these days.

Those points, of course, lead some to think that Balsillie is likely to pull a Major League job on Nashville, putting an inferior product on the ice in order to kill attendance and trigger the buyout option in the stadium lease that allows him to skip town in the summer of 2008 for a mere $18 million. The timing of this announcment, just as the marketing push for season tickets was kicking off, appears particularly ill-timed.

In order to help those fans in Nashville who don't quite know what to make of the situation, and provide some insight from other concerned fans around the league who hate to see teams moved (thanks to the many kind emails and comments which have come in the past two days), I'm introducing the Balsilliemeter as a regular feature on this blog. Through my advanced and highly scientific modeling techniques, I've come up with a highly accurate barometer to reflect the attitude of the typical Nashville Predators fan towards their soon-to-be owner.

We're starting Mr. Balsillie's rating here at around 4.5 on a scale of 0 (OMG, are those moving trucks?) to 10 (he cuts a duet with Dolly Parton and greets people with "How y'all are, eh?"). The raw starting point was a middling 5.0, with a slight tick downward based on the lack of substantive comment from Balsillie regarding the upcoming purchase. If he was sold on keeping the team in Nashville, he'd certainly have something positive to say to prospective season ticket purchasers. The Balsilliemeter will be added to the sidebar for a quick and easy read on the anxiety level here in Predators country.

I'll keep a watch on activity in the weeks and months ahead, in terms of business dealings, team management, and of course the handling of free agency in a few week's time. In the short term, the key to keeping the team in Nashville is bumping the per-game paid attendance up above 14,000, which is less than 200 higher than last year's final figure. One season ticket holder I talked to yesterday said he felt like he'd been punched in the gut, but is going to maintain his commitment and try and bring more folks out to the rink this season. I know I'm going to try and do my part as well. Put simply, the 14,000 mark is easily obtainable next season - let's see just how hard Mr. Balsillie tries to make that happen.

Popular posts from this blog

Canadian Baloney, starring James Mirtle

A tireless refrain from the Canadian media is that Nashville is an absolute failure as a hockey market, and failing to move the team north of the border is an exercise in folly by the NHL.

Our latest exhibit comes from James Mirtle, usually one of the more thoughtful hockey bloggers extant:
But Nashville, quite simply, has proven it cannot sustain an NHL hockey team. Even with the lowest ticket prices in the entire league (I know: I've looked into flying there for a game or two) and a ridiculously forgiving arena lease, the team has had attendance issues despite having one of the best records in the league.

It's not a matter of Canadians not wanting teams in the southern U.S.; I've argued time and again in favour of teams like Dallas and Tampa Bay that have supported their teams and really brought something to the table in terms of bringing news fans and new energy to the game. That's a good thing.

The Predators, however, are not that, not in the beginning and certainly no…

How I'm Trying To Make Money Sports Blogging

To kick off this series of articles general sports-blogging articles here at OTF Classic, I think it's best to start with a comment that Brad left here last week, after I shared my goals for 2012, which include specific revenue targets:
I considered diving into the world of internet marketing myself, but I felt that my friends would hate me for bugging them about stuff. I mean, it's pretty low-risk high-reward, so it's tempting. I wouldn't mind reading about tips on how to maximize impact of blogging in general to make it a legitimate income source. Trying to make money at sports blogging can be a very touchy subject - for the vast majority of us, this is an activity we pursue to both exercise our creativity and share our love of the game, whether it's hockey, football, badminton, whatever, with fellow fans. Mixing that personal conversation with a commercial message can turn people off, especially if it becomes too intrusive for the reader.

It's not unreasonabl…

Social Media, Internet Marketing, and Real, Paying Customers - it really works!

Applying the basic tenets of internet marketing (SEO best practices and social media network building) have helped me grow the readership and engagement over at On The Forecheck tremendously in recent years, but lately I've been wondering if those same techniques could be applied to small- or medium-sized local businesses, to help them drive real, tangible business results.

I'm talking about not just drawing idle hockey fans looking to a blog so they can muse over line combinations, but helping businesses connect with potential customers in ways that otherwise wouldn't occur. Recently, I was able to help make just such a thing happen, and it shows just how great the opportunities are for small, local businesses which may not have the resources or skills available to extend their brand effectively on the internet.