One of the big reasons that an NHL team could conceivably work in Seattle, Washington is because it is such a short driving distance from Vancouver. The team would probably benefit from overflow from hockey fans who couldn’t get tickets to Canucks games.
While the distance is quite a bit further between Atlanta, Georgia and Nashville, Tennessee, it’s still a fairly reasonable 249 miles or about a four hour drive (according to Rand McNally). That might not be a convenient distance for a back-and-forth trip during the week, but perhaps hockey-hungry Atlanta residents might opt to make that trip during the weekend or on holidays?
Whatever the case, the Nashville Predators are trying to seize a solid opportunity to sell some extra tickets by courting jilted Thrashers fans. The Nashville Post reports that the Predators are still waiting on the Board of Governors’ vote to approve the Thrashers’ relocation, which is largely considered a formality. The Predators are hoping to sell a package of four to seven games, which focus on weekend contests. What might be most interesting, though, is that Predators games might actually replace Thrashers ones in the Atlanta market.
Parker said the package geared towards Atlantans will be between four and seven games, predominantly on the weekend and spread throughout the season.
“If we can play the former Thrashers, that’s a more appealing stand alone option. … We’d like to work with CVB for a package to make it a weekend. It’s four hours and 5 million people. You’d only need to obtain a sliver,” he said.
Rumors have also circulated that Fox Sports is looking to broadcast Nashville or Carolina Hurricanes games in the Atlanta market next season. Both Henry and Parker said the talk is premature with the BoG vote still pending, but that it’s an opportunity they’d clearly like to take advantage of, given that Atlanta’s large metropolitan area provides access to both a large fan base and a sponsor base. Henry noted that Fox is going to have a sports programming hole in a major media market that needs to be filled.
“If the move is approved by the Board of Governors, I assume there’s a big void of coverage. You are moving from 82 games to none, from 300 hours of coverage to zero, and I’m assuming there’s going to be hockey [on Atlanta television],” he said.
Could the Predators expand their swath even slightly into the Atlanta market? That remains to be seen, but they’re absolutely wise to give it a shot.
(H/T to On the Forecheck.)