By Dan Canavan
Although many have weighed in on the likelihood of the NHL’s return to Hartford, few have examined what the city can offer to an NHL franchise. While a new downtown arena is crucial to lure the NHL, Hartford has much more to offer. Here are two of Hartford’s primary selling points:
1. An Untapped Media Market
The Hartford-New Haven region represents the largest media market in the United States without a major league team, and no. 30 on Nielsen’s Rankings of Local Television Markets. Historically, Springfield and Western Massachusetts were Whaler television territory, and the Whale previously played games in Springfield. If you add Springfield-Holyoke to Hartford-New Haven, the region becomes the 21st market, just north of St. Louis and ahead of other NHL markets such as Pittsburgh (23), Raleigh-Durham (27), Nashville (29), Columbus (32) and Buffalo (51). Naturally, there are no other major league teams in Connecticut competing for sports dollars. In fact, the biggest competition facing an NHL team in Central Connecticut would be UConn basketball. Although often cited as arguments why Hartford is not suited to host a professional sports team, the New York and Boston teams are not legitimate attendance competition. As a life long hockey fan, I find it hard to believe that many people are leaving the greater Hartford area regularly to attend Ranger or Bruins games. It is a convenient excuse, but not a real issue.
2. Breaking Away from the (Wolf) Pack Mentality
Dan Canavan is an attorney at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy in Hartford, Connecticut, and fan of the former Hartford Whalers. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-548-2672.