Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Don't Expect BCHL or WHL in Wenatchee

Out here in the Pacific Northwest, there's a lot of talk about the $45 million dollar arena project that has broken ground in Wenatchee, Washington.

The conventional wisdom is that the city must have it's eye on a BCHL or WHL hockey team.

But I don't think that is what's happening.

The Wenatchee arena project is being managed by Global Entertainment, the parent company of the Central Hockey League.

I've got to think there's zero chance that Global is spending all this money/effort just to give a big franchise expansion fee to the WHL or BCHL. Nor are they spending all this money to give away the arena to some existing WHL/BCHL owner. I also doubt that they're helping the city gamble $45 million on a new arena in the hopes they can buy some WHL/BCHL team that currently isn't for sale.

So forget all the speculation about WHL or BCHL in Wenatchee. It's not happening (at least for now). They are either putting a Central Hockey League team in there or it will be part of splitting some existing CHL teams into another new league. It either case, it looks like Wenatchee is the first step in a plan for geographic expansion of Global's professional hockey holdings.

The CHL has had some amazing success planting new arenas and new teams in some very strange and impossibly small markets (like Hidalgo, Texas, population 7,300). So these guys do know how to sell hockey in small markets.


Marc Foster said...

Michael, Hidalgo is not a small market for the CHL. It's adjacent to McAllen, one of several medium-sized towns in the lower Rio Grande Valley. The western half of the lower valley, which the CHL's Killer Bees serve, is about 325k. The easter half, which includes Brownsville and Harlingen, and which may get its own team eventually (in Harlingen), is another 300k or so.

Marc Foster said...

Global doesn't exclusively build arenas for their CHL branch. In Abbotsford they're looking ECHL...

ECHL for Wenatchee, combined with Victoria, Boise, and the rest of the old WCHL, makes more sense than the CHL.

Michael Remmerde said...

Had not considered ECHL for Wenatchee - that does make sense.