Friday, June 29, 2007

Kansas City promised NHL team, sources say

from Matthew Sekeres of the National Post

The National Hockey League was prepared to deliver a team to William (Boots) Del Biaggio and Kansas City's Sprint Center as part of a plan to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, sources told the National Post yesterday.

Del Biaggio, now the frontrunner to purchase and relocate the Nashville Predators, and Tim Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the company that operates the Sprint Center, aggressively pursued the Penguins late last year, offering the team a rent-free lease in the new arena.

But sources said the league, which didn't want to lose a value market in Pittsburgh, asked the Kansas City investors to back off their chase of the Penguins while indicating to the group it would be next in line for an NHL franchise.

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Yesterday, I questioned why the NHL would want to put a team in Kansas City -- the 31st largest market in the US. Today I have my answer. Apparently the NHL is rewarding the Kansas City investors for not buying the Penguins and moving Sidney Crosby to a small non-traditional hockey market. I guess in that respect, this move will help NHL tv ratings, because it keeps Crosby in a market that actually watches the sport.