Part of Hamilton’s problem is that Toronto is less than an hour away by car on most days.
If National Hockey League owners decide to add more teams to the league or relocate a franchise, Hamilton, Ontario will not be getting a team. At least that is the word from Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke. Leiweke should know, his company is in charge of renovating the Hamilton arena. He has ruled out the NHL in the building. Hamilton has a geography problem as the city sits in the Toronto metropolitan market and even if there was an opportunity to get an NHL team in the city, the owner of an NHL Hamilton franchise would have to pay money to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ ownership for invading the territory and that would not be cheap. Hamilton once did have an NHL team but it only lasted five seasons. The Hamilton Tigers franchise won the 1924-1925 regular season but did not play in the playoffs as the players went on strike for increased pay. NHL president Frank Calder suspended the team. In the off-season, the assets of the team were sold to form the New York Americans expansion team.
The National Hockey League ownership group in the late 1980s decided that 21 teams was no longer a good plan to move ahead and that the league needed to add teams. Hamilton, Ontario was in the mix for a team but the city’s new arena was not built for 1990s standards. The problem? The facility did not have very many luxury boxes, the big-ticket item. The NHL wanted to add a Canadian franchise and found Bruce Firestone ready to spend $50 million for a team in Ottawa. Hamilton did get an opportunity to land a franchise in 2007 when Jim Basillie bought the Nashville Predators franchise but the league blocked the sale. The renovated Hamilton arena could have junior or minor league hockey.
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