What is your objective?
We are an advocacy group working to attract and retain a pro hockey franchise in Portland. Our preferred league would be the NHL, but we would also relish an opportunity to host a team in the AHL. We also want to grow hockey’s presence in the Portland metro area, the state of Oregon, and the American Northwest.
Pro sports teams often burden local taxpayers. What would be required of the public?
Pro hockey in Portland would require nothing more than the public’s interest. With the Rose Quarter boasting both an NHL-ready arena (Moda Center) and an AHL-ready arena next door (Veterans Memorial Coliseum), either league could field a team in Portland tomorrow. Not only are the arenas ready, but the Rose Quarter is served by four different lines of light rail, two street cars, and six bus lines, making it one of the best transit-served sports districts in the nation.
What potential scenarios do you envision?
This blog post covers it in depth. Expansion or relocation of an existing franchise, in either the NHL or AHL, are all distinct possibilities. Bottom line, keep an eye on the arena situations in Phoenix and Seattle; whichever does or doesn’t get built affects our plight.
Doesn’t Portland already have pro hockey?
Portland’s current hockey team, the Winterhawks, is a Major Junior team. The players range in age from 16 to 20. Major Junior players receive billet housing and a living stipend, but are not signed to professional contracts with the Winterhawks. Major Juniors is considered an alternative to NCAA hockey, which has players ranging in age from 17 to 25. We believe that Portland is in prime position to attract a higher level of hockey.
With all due respect, why Portland?
Portland shows great potential for another pro sports franchise. The NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers own the longest sellout streak of any American pro sports franchise at 814 consecutive games from 1977 through 1995. Currently, they rank near the top of NBA attendance on a yearly basis. The city’s second pro franchise, the MLS’ Portland Timbers, currently has a season ticket waitlist exceeding 13,000 people.
Of the forty largest cities/metro areas in the US, none is further from an NHL arena than Portland; of the same forty cities/metros, only Portland, Seattle, and Sacramento (unless you count nearby Stockton) do not have a pro hockey franchise. This question will be answered by many of the blog posts, as well. Stay tuned.