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THIS ONE GOES TO 11: NHL SET TO HEAR EXPANSION BIDS
Published January 13, 1997
The NHL will hear eleven presentations from nine cities bidding for an expansion team over the next two days in New York City, according to Damien Cox of the TORONTO STAR. Each group, including three from Houston, will have 30-45 minutes to "make its pitch," then another 30-45 minutes to answer questions. The cities: Atlanta; Houston; Nashville; Raleigh-Durham, NC; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Columbus, OH; Hampton Roads, VA; Hamilton, ON; and Oklahoma City, OK. Cox notes Atlanta "is regarded as the favorite along with Houston ... mostly because it is believed the league is looking to improve" its TV presence. But those two do not have "perfect arena arrangements" and "only Nashville has everything in place" (TORONTO STAR, 1/13). USA TODAY's Kevin Allen notes that with the NHL looking to land "a far more lucrative" TV deal in two years, "they will be looking to expand their national ratings potential with this round of expansion. That's why Atlanta is considered the favorite ... Houston also seems like a certainty." The "conventional wisdom" is for the NHL to expand by four teams by the 2000, two in '98-99 and two in '99-00 (USA TODAY, 1/13). LOCAL REAX: In Houston, Neil Hohlfeld: "Perhaps it is a coincidence, but the [Executive Committee] will hear the bids from the Houston groups in the order that probably is how they rank in terms of winning the expansion battle:" IHL Aeros Owner Chuck Watson, followed by Rockets Owner Les Alexander and then the Maloof family (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/12). In Atlanta, Henry Unger notes that Turner Broadcasting's bid "is viewed as one of the strongest by league observers" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/13). St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman: "It wouldn't surprise me if the league announces Atlanta and Houston would join as expansion teams in '98 and leaves 2000 open to wait for the resolution of the Hartford situation." The Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE's Curt Brown notes St. Paul "is considered a prime relocation city because the league has been inclined to waive hefty transfer fees," as much as $20M, for teams returning to former NHL cities (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/13). COL. KURTZ? In Toronto, Damien Cox, on expansion: "The horror. The horror" (TORONTO STAR, 1/13). ALL-STAR DOUGH: In San Jose, city officials estimate that "direct spending" at the NHL All-Star weekend "will exceed" $5M and "indirect spending should exceed" $10M (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/12).