Monday, May 5, 2014

AHL to Start Western Division: Kansas City Not "Western" Enough for Once

According to this article from MayorsManor, the American Hockey League (the AAA version of professional hockey) may add a Western Division by 2015.  This is an effort for teams like the Sharks, Ducks, Coyotes, and Kings to move their top affiliates closer to home.  Currently, all four of these team's affiliates are on the East Coast.

"West" does not appear to mean Kansas City, though.  One time zone closer is not quite close enough.

Despite AEG's ownership of the Sprint Center and the Los Angeles Kings, that team appears destined for Ontario, CA, the current home of the Kings ECHL organization. 
The Kansas City Blades were the primary affiliate of the San Jose Sharks from 1991-96 until the NHL pressured their clubs to link up with AHL organizations.  Again, the Sharks appear to want a move closer to home, and not 1,000+ miles away.  Portland, OR and cities in Washington state could be viable options for the Sharks, as well as for the Ducks and Coyotes.  I suppose a fun irony would be if the Coyotes AHL affiliate were to play in Seattle.  Oh, what a wonderful laugh that would be.

This comes on the heels of the announcement that the Flames affiliate in Abbotsford (Western Canada)  – the only team in the Pacific Time Zone – is moving to the East Coast next season.

The reconfiguring of the AHL does not mean the NHL’s Midwest teams will be looking for new homes for their affiliates either.  Those teams are already close, as it is.  Dallas’ affiliate is in Texas; Chicago and St. Louis’s affiliates are in Illinois; Nashville’s affiliate is in Milwaukee; and the Minnesota Wild’s affiliate is in Iowa.  And even though the Columbus Blue Jackets’s affiliate is in Springfield, Massachusetts, Kansas City sports fans may not latch onto the affiliate of another smaller market team.

Why not?

Because, as the top image implies, Kansas City does not see itself as a minor league city anyway.   Kansas City carries a “Minor League Syndrome,” as evidenced by the KC Creative Crossroads campaign and the parody billboard at the top of the post.  More Music (lovers in small, indecipherable type) than Memphis?  More Arts (participation) than New York?  I mean, it’s all marketing and tourism speak, but come on.

An AHL team in the Sprint Center would add an anchor tenant and 40+ dates to the arena (just like a pro hockey or basketball would).  As evidenced before, the Mavericks have one of the higher attendances of any American minor league hockey team.  So, it’s plausible that an AHL team downtown would draw just as many people to games. 

Alas, we are blessed with the Mavericks, and only the Mavericks, for the time being.  And in return, they have been blessed with the Kansas City Curse.

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