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Atlanta Spirit Unable To Find Local Buyer To Keep Thrashers In City
Published June 1, 2011
TRYING TO FILL THE VOID: The Thrashers averaged an anemic 5,500 HHs per game for their telecasts on FS South this season. In the six seasons since the lockout, the team's telecasts never averaged more than 8,000 HHs. "FS South worked closely with team executives to try to increase interest in the Thrashers, but due to challenges on and off the ice, the marketplace never fully embraced the team," said FSN VP/PR Chris Bellitti. Sources said FSN is looking into distributing other NHL teams in the Atlanta market, including potentially the Hurricanes and Predators (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
GIVEN A FAIR SHOT? In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote, "It's about greed and abandonment, plain and simple. It's about a disingenuous ownership group, which had long lost any semblance of credibility, serving up fans swill and gruel and then wondering why the turnstiles sleep at night." The NHL is "leaving a city that never really was given a chance." Schultz: "Atlanta didn't fail. The franchise failed. ... Bettman will be happy to collect another fat relocation fee, and he'll deliver the same canned, phony speech about how he always believed in this market" (AJC.com, 5/31). ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun wrote, "I don't feel like the Atlanta market was given a real chance had there been proper ownership." ESPN.com's Scott Brunside: "The NHL will never be the same, and this move is likely to create some significant changes in how the NHL looks over the next year" (ESPN.com, 5/31). In Toronto, Damien Cox writes, "How humiliating to have to beat a hasty retreat from Atlanta after only 11 years" (TORONTO STAR, 6/1).