SBD/May 11, 2011/Franchises

Source: Blue Jackets Projecting Losses Of About $25M For '10-11 Season

Blue Jackets' attendance at Nationwide Arena this season was a franchise low
Rising salaries for players, a "sharp decline in attendance and lingering issues with their Nationwide Arena lease have the Blue Jackets projecting losses of approximately $25 million for the 2010-11 season," according to an NHL source cited by Aaron Portzline of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. The team's "financial distress has been known for two years, but this season's projected losses -- despite $12 million to $13 million in revenue sharing expected from the NHL this summer -- represent a staggering increase." The Blue Jackets "lost roughly $14 million in each of the previous two seasons." The deeper losses come at a time when two NHL franchises -- the Coyotes and Thrashers -- "seem on the verge of relocation." The NHL source said the Blue Jackets should not be "part of that conversation with Atlanta and Phoenix yet. But they need a solution, and quick." The team averaged 13,350 fans in Nationwide Arena this season, an average of 2,067 per game fewer than in '09-10 and "by far a franchise low." Because the Blue Jackets "didn't average 14,000 fans per game and didn't match the NHL's revenue growth rate, they will lose 25 percent of their revenue-sharing check from the NHL." Despite the losses, Blue Jackets President Mike Priest said that Exec VP/Hockey Operations & GM Scott Howson is "under no orders to cut payroll." Priest "would not comment on the team's future in Columbus." However, he said Owner John McConnell "is committed to winning and building the best franchise, and he's committed to finding a resolution" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/11).
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