SBD/May 27, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Reaping Returns From High-Profile Playoff Matchups; Salary Cap To Reach About $70M

With big-market teams still in play, NHL revenues have eclipsed $3B
The NHL "could have hardly hoped for a better final four from the perspective of revenue generation," but even before the matchups were set, the league's hockey-related revenue "was going to hit a record," according to James Mirtle of the GLOBE & MAIL. It is "remarkable" how strong the NHL remains -- and "how much stronger it’s been made in these playoffs." League revenues are up to at least the $3.6B range -- a nearly 10% jump "from the last full season" in '11-12. With teams like the Canadiens and Rangers still in play, that is "likely to keep creeping higher." The Canadiens are generating more than $3M in "gate revenue per home date -- nearly double that of a small market." The Rangers and Blackhawks "aren’t far behind." The NHL "got everything it could have hoped for on the business side." Mirtle: "It’s all rather hard to believe, given where we were 18 months ago" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/26).

ON THE RISE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said of the league's big night at the Sports Business Awards, "It's a recognition of the strength of our great game. That's really what it's about. We have a foundation that's never been stronger to grow on, and that's why we're growing. And it's based on a series of things that were decided and happened, some of which at the time were painful, but were part of getting to where we believed we needed to get if we were going to see the game prosper." Meanwhile, he said of the prospect of NHL expansion to Las Vegas, "Things are popping up, but we're not in an expansion process. Could we get to one at some point? Maybe. But right now we're not focused on going through an expansion process." ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun noted there is "still no word on future Olympic participation" for NHL players. There was word leaving Sochi that a decision "would be made by the summer, but at this point, there's not much new." One announcement that "should come within the next month or two is next year's slate of outdoor games." There were a record six games held in '13-14, but that is "going to be a one-time thing." Bettman: "We're not going to do as many games as we did this year. We're obviously going to do more than one." LeBrun wrote that a "plausible guess would be three or four outdoor games" in '14-15 (ESPN.com, 5/23). In Boston, Fluto Shinzawa reported teams are "still recovering from the lockout’s effect on the salary cap." The cap in '14-15 will be approximately $70M, which is "about the same as it was" in '12-13 ($70.3M), before it dipped to $64.3M in '13-14. Teams had assumed before the lockout that the cap "would rise by a similar percentage every year." That ascent is "projected to return to normal" in '15-16 (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/25).
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