Is Ottawa a legitimate National Hockey League market? There is some question about Ottawa, no the franchise is not moving at any time in the near future, but Senators ownership is looking to get a new building to use closer to the center of the city. Ottawa is a small market that presents the NHL and Senators ownership with a unique problem. The team doesn’t have the corporate market that is needed to be successful. The National Hockey League would prefer a market to have companies with at least $5 million in sales and 25 employees as it thinks those companies can afford NHL season tickets. Ottawa has the smallest corporate community in the NHL with about 900 suitable businesses. Winnipeg, which is also a small market, has more than 1,700 companies.
Ottawa isn’t the only problem area for the NHL. There is the question of what will happen to the Carolina Hurricanes franchise, Arizona continues to be a thorny issue for the league, Calgary Flames ownership has been unable to get public subsidies out of the local government to build a new arena. Islanders’ ownership wants out of Brooklyn. There is also let’s move into Quebec City talk but like Ottawa, Quebec City has a very limited corporate community and is a government town. If ticket prices were affordable, the middle class in Quebec City would flock to games but NHL ticket prices are high and NHL owners are more interested in selling luxury boxes, club seats and get people to use in-venue eateries. Sports owners want customers not fans. Senators’ ownership has decided to limit the number of available seats for the 2017-18 season by putting a tarp over unsold seats. Canadian sports media, which constantly carps about Gary Bettman and the US Sunbelt failures, would like to ignore the Ottawa story. Sports real problem is that ticket prices are way too high. Fans have left the building.
Gary Bettman and Ottawa ownership are seeking a new building in the Canadian capital.