Hamilton Has Given Up On Getting An NHL Franchise 

It’s all over now.

At one time, Hamilton, Ontario a city about 40 miles west of Toronto was looking to land a National Hockey League franchise. The NHL Board of Governors decided to add seven teams to the then 21 team group in 1990 and Hamilton backers thought the NHL would pick the city. Hamilton had an arena but there were some problems. Hamilton is also close to Buffalo, an NHL franchised city that gets customers from Canada’s Niagara Frontier. Neither Buffalo Sabres ownership nor Toronto Maple Leafs ownership wanted Hamilton. Then there was the facility itself. It was a modern building if it was 1978. In 1985, when the building opened there were not many upscale seats whether it was club seats or luxury boxes. No one stepped up to buy an NHL franchise in 1990 or 1991 or 1992 because the NHL wanted $50 million immediately for a franchise. There would be attempts by Jim Basillie to buy the Nashville Predators and move the team to Hamilton in 2007 and the NHL’s troubled Phoenix franchise by Basillie again in 2009. Both tries failed.

Hamilton’s building is now 34 years old which in ancient in the modern-day world of sports. Hamilton city elected officials will be taking a close look at an Ernst and Young report that suggests the city replace the old building with a 10,000-seat venue. That would end Hamilton’s hopes in landing an NHL franchise. The Ernst and Young report pointed out that Hamilton has trouble filling the old facility for any event. The building got up to 9,000 customers for concerts, far less people for the minor pro Canadian Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs. In 2017, it was estimated that making the Hamilton arena NHL ready would cost a quarter of a billion dollars Canadian. City officials never followed up on the notion. It was too expensive.