Atlanta Area Developer Wants An NHL Team As Part Of An Arena-Village Project

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The NHL is not in an expansion mode.

The developers of the Gathering Alpharetta near Atlanta, Georgia want to be ready for the National Hockey League if and when the league plans to add teams or be available as a relocation option for some owner looking for greener pastures. The Gathering Alpharetta would be an arena-village with an 18,000-seat arena as the centerpiece of the $2 billion project. The site is about 29 miles from downtown Atlanta. In June, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league was “not in expansion mode,” and that adding teams is not “close to the front burner.” The Atlanta area has not been a good market for the NHL. The National Hockey League expanded to Atlanta in 1971 because the league was worried that the then newly formed World Hockey Association was looking to establish a franchise in New York and possibly Atlanta. The NHL put franchises in Uniondale, New York and Atlanta in an effort to blunt the WHA’s efforts.

Atlanta lost the franchise in 1980 because ownership did not have the type of money needed to support a franchise and sold the Flames franchise to Calgary interests. The second NHL team fell victim to incredibly bad ownership. Ted Turner owned the franchise that he bought during the National Hockey League’s expansion to Nashville, Columbus, Ohio, St. Paul, Minnesota and Atlanta in 1997. But Turner got the business during the Time Warner hostile takeover of his business. Time Warner then merged with AOL which may have been the worst business decision of the 21st century and started selling off assets and closing down sports properties like the Goodwill Games and WCW Wrestling. AOL Time Warner sold the hockey business in 2003 and more bad ownership ensued until the team was sold to Winnipeg investors in 2011 and moved to the Manitoba city. Atlanta just might not be an NHL market.

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