Nothing is imminent.
It is April Fool’s Day and there seems to be some story floating around that the National Hockey League is going to return to the Atlanta-area hoping that the third time’s a charm. Atlanta lost its first NHL 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 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.
How real are the rumblings on social media that Atlanta and its area is in line to get an expansion or relocated team? Probably not very high. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman claims the league is set at 32 teams and no franchises are going to relocate. Arizona is a problem market and the future of the Tempe-based franchise may be decided in May when Tempe voters will answer the question of whether they want an arena-village in town. For what it is worth, the Atlanta-NHL team would play in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta. Nothing is coming soon to Alpharetta because there is no arena or even an arena proposal in the town. Houston might be the other city that the NHL might have an eye on.
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