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center33

Columbus With FHL Ownership Interest

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If the exorbitant salaries in the SPHL was the problem, I fear for the FHL.  Are they working for tips?

Edited by Carey Mahoney

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I am hoping so so bad the Cottonmouths make it back into the SPHL.  I would hate to see an Original Four city in another league.

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53 minutes ago, Carey Mahoney said:

If the exorbitant salaries in the SPHL was the problem, I fear for the FHL.  Are they working for tips?

At a certain point being broke is being broke.  You can always end up homeless, but I imagine everyone would jump ship some time before then.

 

In Hockey Night in Dixie, it is presented that guys in the SPHL aren’t making real money, but they play here in season then maybe go to a league elsewhere in the world intheir season and get by.  No one really expects to make it big, and it is just sort of  a fun thing for college players who graduated to do for a while.  Now the SPHL has moved up in the world since that was written, and some guys do get called up (not sure how many have it to a league where you can make a real living though although some parlay playing into getting into coaching where your odds of getting a decent paycheck are probably better), and the FHL sort of seems to occupy that bottom slot of hey playing minor league hockey is a lot more fun than using my degree for a desk job.

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54 minutes ago, Carey Mahoney said:

If the exorbitant salaries in the SPHL was the problem, I fear for the FHL.  Are they working for tips?

They are offsetting that with shorter travel distances between the cities.  🤔  They are just going to kill the teams barely making it with travel costs.  But they will have 3 teams that should be able to keep the league afloat with Carolina, Elmira, and Columbus if they can get them.  I have a feeling thats how everyone will get new expansion teams in leagues.  Teams dropping out of ECHL will go to SPHL if in the footprint of the league.  With teams dropping out of SPHL going to the FHL.  They haven't figured out where their footprint is yet.  Not seeing much action from any new cities about expansion especially in the SPHL.  

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10 hours ago, Greg81102 said:

They are offsetting that with shorter travel distances between the cities.  🤔  They are just going to kill the teams barely making it with travel costs.  But they will have 3 teams that should be able to keep the league afloat with Carolina, Elmira, and Columbus if they can get them.  

Watertown, NY to Columbus, GA- 1140 miles; Elmira, NY to Columbus, GA- 974 miles; Port Huron, MI to Columbus, GA- 865 miles. Longest distance between SPHL cities- QC to Pensacola- 960 miles: see thread in SPHL League- thanks to @MacGuy

Here are the distances between the SPHL cities for 2018-19, one-way, arena to arena.

 DC1aFb.png

 

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11 hours ago, Greg81102 said:

They are offsetting that with shorter travel distances between the cities.  🤔  They are just going to kill the teams barely making it with travel costs.  But they will have 3 teams that should be able to keep the league afloat with Carolina, Elmira, and Columbus if they can get them.  I have a feeling thats how everyone will get new expansion teams in leagues.  Teams dropping out of ECHL will go to SPHL if in the footprint of the league.  With teams dropping out of SPHL going to the FHL.  They haven't figured out where their footprint is yet.  Not seeing much action from any new cities about expansion especially in the SPHL.

The SPHL salary cap has been pretty stagnant at a pretty low number.  There is no way that FHL financial model can create a significant enough difference to matter for survival in Columbus.  Travel costs alone negate that.

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1 hour ago, PlannedObsolescence said:

Watertown, NY to Columbus, GA- 1140 miles; Elmira, NY to Columbus, GA- 974 miles; Port Huron, MI to Columbus, GA- 865 miles. Longest distance between SPHL cities- QC to Pensacola- 960 miles: see thread in SPHL League- thanks to @MacGuy

Not to mention Carolina being the only stop along the way to break up those long trips - unlike what we have in this league.

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4 hours ago, Carey Mahoney said:

The SPHL salary cap has been pretty stagnant at a pretty low number.  There is no way that FHL financial model can create a significant enough difference to matter for survival in Columbus.  Travel costs alone negate that.

You've neglected to consider one alternative: The players carpool on the road trips, using whichever personal vehicles are the largest among them, and they split the travel expenses among the group. We're talking about the FHL, after all - that solution would fit comfortably within their historical business model.  :Grinch-icon:

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7 minutes ago, JMC-STL said:

You've neglected to consider one alternative: The players carpool on the road trips, using whichever personal vehicles are the largest among them, and they split the travel expenses among the group. We're talking about the FHL, after all - that solution would fit comfortably within their historical business model.  :Grinch-icon:

1 That can't be what Columbus wants.

2 That is hard to budget in a business model for comparison sake.

3 There has to be competitive interest in SPHL.

Sad for Columbus fans.

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8 hours ago, Carey Mahoney said:

1 That can't be what Columbus wants.

2 That is hard to budget in a business model for comparison sake.

3 There has to be competitive interest in SPHL.

Sad for Columbus fans.

I agree but new owners are probably looking at the dollar signs.They had a team failing in the SPHL and are hoping they can bring in the same attendance as the Cottonmouths.  With the lower budget they would end up making money if the arena really wants hockey back and can give them a good lease.  But for all we know it might be the same guy the SPHL already turned down with the Columbus Burn and now planning with the FHL.  Thats the only way I see the team not thinking about the return to the SPHL.  Anybody have the answer to how much cheaper it is to form a team in the FHL than the SPHL?  

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9 hours ago, Greg81102 said:

I agree but new owners are probably looking at the dollar signs.They had a team failing in the SPHL and are hoping they can bring in the same attendance as the Cottonmouths.  With the lower budget they would end up making money if the arena really wants hockey back and can give them a good lease.  But for all we know it might be the same guy the SPHL already turned down with the Columbus Burn and now planning with the FHL.  Thats the only way I see the team not thinking about the return to the SPHL.  Anybody have the answer to how much cheaper it is to form a team in the FHL than the SPHL?  

From what I have heard and after doing some digging, a team in the SPHL is 2-3x as expensive as a FHL team. The numbers I've heard for the FHL are around $500k for the whole year for teams like Watertown, Mentor, PH, and Danville, but teams like Carolina and Elmira likely have higher budgets of maybe around $750k, while the SPHL is closer to $1.2m to $1.5m, with a certain team in North Carolina being on the low end at $1m.

Travel, even FHL teams from what I've seen now travel by bus, Watertown, Elmira, Carolina have all posted pictures of the big charter bus being loaded up before a road trip this season, that's really the one area you can't skimp, because if you make players pay their own way to get there, that's not pro hockey and you'd have a really hard time getting people to play AND have to pay their own way to games.

But to where there are big savings: Even with the SPHL's very low salary cap, the FHL is even lower and over the course of the season is about $50k less paid out to players, provided both of those teams play at max cap each week. Which, maybe that happens in the SPHL, and almost no way that happens in the FHL unless you're Carolina. But while $50k is a big number in terms of pay, in the overall budget it might be a 5% savings, so the still FHL has to cut costs everywhere it can.

I'd have to guess that because the rinks in the FHL are smaller, colder, aside from Carolina, get a ton of other uses from high school teams, men's leagues, youth leagues, public skates, and whatever else, their leases are the big difference in savings. And that adds up in people working at the arena too that are likely built into the lease. A rink with say 2,000 seats and only 1,000 fans a night like Watertown takes a LOT less people to run, and to pay, than say Huntsville which has to accommodate 5,000 people a night.

That and SPHL teams probably have an actual staff of a head coach, assistant coach, trainer, equipment manager, and then large off-ice staffs of a GM, media person, marketing head, sales leader, then who knows however many people in sales trying to sell tickets and sponsorships. While the FHL has a head coach (usually a player is an assistant so there's some savings), MAYBE a trainer or at best an on-call trainer from some local physical therapy place at just the games, and then an off-ice staff of a GM, media person, and a head of sales while all three of those people also have to double-up as sales people trying to sell tickets and sponsors. FHL teams are on absolute skeleton staffs and that's a big savings. Then they have to hope that a TON of volunteers step up on game-day to run the merch stand (if they have one), and do whatever else happens on game day.

Not to mention whatever savings there is in marketing budget. Some SPHL teams like Huntsville do a TON of social media advertising that costs a lot of money but gets a lot of reach, and as we've seen, brings in a lot of fans. While the FHL, aside from Carolina, their "advertising" is just a post on Facebook by whoever has a computer nearby saying, "Hey come to the game tonight! Go Prowlers!!111!!" The ol', gotta spend money to make money line, and FHL teams likely try to avoid spending on that type of thing.

Another thing to consider, but I don't know this one for sure,is player equipment. The SPHL has a deal with Warrior, so they likely get a discounted rate but we all know hockey equipment is absurdly expensive. If SPHL teams pay for all the gear then that's an absurd expense, while the FHL might supply the players with a jersey, socks, pant shell, and maybe gloves, helmet and sticks, while the players have to find their own skates, shin pads, chest/shoulder protectors, pants, and whatever else. 

Add all that up and I can see how the FHL is that much cheaper. Basically, cut corners anywhere and everywhere, hope that enough word of mouth advertising gets out to sell 750 tickets a night, and sell enough ads on the boards, jerseys, in-game promos, and wherever else, and you might survive in the FHL.

 

Edited by TroopSupporter42069

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The fhl is listed as a single A hockey league as the SPHL but far less talented and organized than the S. They should be considered B verses single A. The higher the league, higher operating cost.

 

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That's quite an analysis, TroopSupporter42069.

One thing I haven't seen covered here is total road trip miles and, as a function of that, fuel costs. Obviously, this is only one component of overall road trip costs, but it's easily measurable.

I looked at this season's road trips for Fayetteville and Pensacola, being the SPHL teams with the farthest to travel (though Fayetteville never makes it to Quad City). And I looked at the FHL's Watertown for the same reason, both this season's scheduled road trips and the same with a trip to Columbus added in place of a couple of trips to Elmira (noting that Watertown has 30 road games vs. 28 home games this season). In all cases, back-to-back games at the same arena and multi-city road trips were taken into consideration.

Here's what I found, using today's averages of 6 mpg on a charter bus and $3.00/gallon for diesel.
- Fayetteville will travel over 15,100 miles at a fuel cost of over $7,500
- Pensacola will travel over 17,100 miles at a fuel cost of over $8,500. 
- Watertown will travel over 16,200 miles at a fuel cost of over $8,100. 
- With Columbus swapped in, that changed to 17,200 miles and $8,600.

Those numbers are surprisingly close, until you factor in the difference in operating costs between the leagues.

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2 hours ago, TroopSupporter42069 said:

From what I have heard and after doing some digging, a team in the SPHL is 2-3x as expensive as a FHL team. The numbers I've heard for the FHL are around $500k for the whole year for teams like Watertown, Mentor, PH, and Danville, but teams like Carolina and Elmira likely have higher budgets of maybe around $750k, while the SPHL is closer to $1.2m to $1.5m, with a certain team in North Carolina being on the low end at $1m.

Travel, even FHL teams from what I've seen now travel by bus, Watertown, Elmira, Carolina have all posted pictures of the big charter bus being loaded up before a road trip this season, that's really the one area you can't skimp, because if you make players pay their own way to get there, that's not pro hockey and you'd have a really hard time getting people to play AND have to pay their own way to games.

But to where there are big savings: Even with the SPHL's very low salary cap, the FHL is even lower and over the course of the season is about $50k less paid out to players, provided both of those teams play at max cap each week. Which, maybe that happens in the SPHL, and almost no way that happens in the FHL unless you're Carolina. But while $50k is a big number in terms of pay, in the overall budget it might be a 5% savings, so the still FHL has to cut costs everywhere it can.

I'd have to guess that because the rinks in the FHL are smaller, colder, aside from Carolina, get a ton of other uses from high school teams, men's leagues, youth leagues, public skates, and whatever else, their leases are the big difference in savings. And that adds up in people working at the arena too that are likely built into the lease. A rink with say 2,000 seats and only 1,000 fans a night like Watertown takes a LOT less people to run, and to pay, than say Huntsville which has to accommodate 5,000 people a night.

That and SPHL teams probably have an actual staff of a head coach, assistant coach, trainer, equipment manager, and then large off-ice staffs of a GM, media person, marketing head, sales leader, then who knows however many people in sales trying to sell tickets and sponsorships. While the FHL has a head coach (usually a player is an assistant so there's some savings), MAYBE a trainer or at best an on-call trainer from some local physical therapy place at just the games, and then an off-ice staff of a GM, media person, and a head of sales while all three of those people also have to double-up as sales people trying to sell tickets and sponsors. FHL teams are on absolute skeleton staffs and that's a big savings. Then they have to hope that a TON of volunteers step up on game-day to run the merch stand (if they have one), and do whatever else happens on game day.

Not to mention whatever savings there is in marketing budget. Some SPHL teams like Huntsville do a TON of social media advertising that costs a lot of money but gets a lot of reach, and as we've seen, brings in a lot of fans. While the FHL, aside from Carolina, their "advertising" is just a post on Facebook by whoever has a computer nearby saying, "Hey come to the game tonight! Go Prowlers!!111!!" The ol', gotta spend money to make money line, and FHL teams likely try to avoid spending on that type of thing.

Another thing to consider, but I don't know this one for sure,is player equipment. The SPHL has a deal with Warrior, so they likely get a discounted rate but we all know hockey equipment is absurdly expensive. If SPHL teams pay for all the gear then that's an absurd expense, while the FHL might supply the players with a jersey, socks, pant shell, and maybe gloves, helmet and sticks, while the players have to find their own skates, shin pads, chest/shoulder protectors, pants, and whatever else. 

Add all that up and I can see how the FHL is that much cheaper. Basically, cut corners anywhere and everywhere, hope that enough word of mouth advertising gets out to sell 750 tickets a night, and sell enough ads on the boards, jerseys, in-game promos, and wherever else, and you might survive in the FHL.

 

I would be curious to see how much leases factor in event staff.  Like you said it takes more people for an SPHL crowd, but the venue makes more off concessions as well.  In addition my guess is all SPHL venues have liquor licenses which can really help those revenues.  I am not sure that is the case for 1000 seat venues whose major tenants are high school and city league teams.

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What we are dealing with the SPHL is we have ECHL wannabe owners at the top of the chain and FHL owners at the bottom, would not surprise me later if the strongest SPHL teams show interest n ECHL and lower teams go FHL SPHL seems to be stuck in the middle as they are too small for some cities and too big for other cities.

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1 hour ago, SASRACE said:

What we are dealing with the SPHL is we have ECHL wannabe owners at the top of the chain and FHL owners at the bottom, would not surprise me later if the strongest SPHL teams show interest n ECHL and lower teams go FHL SPHL seems to be stuck in the middle as they are too small for some cities and too big for other cities.

Aside from Huntsville, I think the ECHL is a pipe dream for those other possible wannabe ECHL teams, even the other strong ones like Knoxville and Peoria, not that they're even considering a jump or being considered by the ECHL for a move. While it would be 2-3x more for a team from the FHL to jump up to the SPHL, it would be at least 2-3x more for a SPHL team to make a jump to the ECHL.

Overnight your player salary expense would more than double, (probably in the park of a jump from $150k a year total to easily over $300k if not 4k a year a year total), if you link up with a NHL/AHL team you'd have massive affiliation fees.

But your biggest challenge again is lease, and the extended season. You'd go from 28 home games to 36 home games and a 56-game schedule to a 72-game schedule. That's another month to two months of hockey games and practices that you have to pay for on the lease BEFORE playoffs start, and another 4-8 weeks of regular season salaries you have to pay out every week BEFORE the playoffs start, and at least three more road trips on the schedule as well. And those could be out in Utah, Idaho, or South Dakota.

Then to cover those added expenses you're looking at major ticket price increases too.

But to your other point about the lesser teams like Fayetteville, Macon, and Evansville, I would not at all be shocked in the future if one or all of those did try to drop to the FHL. Even with a slight drop in crowds from what they're averaging now, they'd likely still make money in that league if the savings in it are in fact that big.

Edited by TroopSupporter42069

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2 hours ago, SASRACE said:

What we are dealing with the SPHL is we have ECHL wannabe owners at the top of the chain and FHL owners at the bottom, would not surprise me later if the strongest SPHL teams show interest n ECHL and lower teams go FHL SPHL seems to be stuck in the middle as they are too small for some cities and too big for other cities.

I am curious as to what makes you characterize some owners as ECHL wannabes and some as FHL wannabes.  Not saying you are wrong just curious if there is evidence.

I am sure the top moneymakers have thought about making more money.  However, I think the top teams in revenue are probably close to being maxed out on their seating, but even at the next level they can’t really play hardball to get their arenas expanded.  

Speaking to the cities I am familiar with, while the Huntsville metro is probably 50000 to 100000 larger than when it had an ECHL team I can’t see anyone seriously thinking of making the jump until you are seeing sellouts half the time, and until the city or one of the universities in town builds a larger venue.  All that is to say while Huntsville’s future as a city and team should be growth, growth, growth for the foreseeable future I can’t see ownership realistically thinking about going to a bigger league in the foreseeable future.  Birmingham has everything in place for it other than a fanbase.  They have the BJCC which can seat an appropriate crowd, and they have an MSA of over a million people.  They are one of the largest MSAs in the US without a big league sports team, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they have some agreement with the league under which they can jump ship with no hard feelings.  That said right now they averaging attendance which puts them on the bubble of sustainability in the SPHL, and until they start selling out their arena on a nightly basis jumping to the ECHL is a pipe dream.

I asked in my topic here about the league salary cap because I suspected that it is not a coincidence Birmingham and Macon are sitting at the top of the league.  Given the confirmation in that topic that not all teams are maxxing out their payroll under the salary cap, I suspect it even more strongly now.  The sad thing is their expenditures in hockey operations don’t seem to be driving attendance as one would hope.  That said that effort and expenditure form their ownership is not what one would classify as an FHL mindset.

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Knoxville and Peoria have been to the ECHL with Peoria all the way in the AHL at one point.  I just believe that in the long future of hockey in Peoria they will move up and if Knoxville gets a new building look for them to explore the opportunity.  I think Huntsville will stay in the SPHL unless some deal is made with the ECHL.  Yes, Huntsville was there years ago but you are right demographics are different in Huntsville now than in the Blast days.

I think Birmingham maybe in a problem to convince people to forget the ECHL and get used to the SPHL.  The Bulls fans I know from years past still have not gone and will not until they get back to the BJCC and then the ones I have taken myself to games said they saw pretty good play, that is what I think Birmingham is gonna have problems with.

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21 minutes ago, SASRACE said:

Knoxville and Peoria have been to the ECHL with Peoria all the way in the AHL at one point.  I just believe that in the long future of hockey in Peoria they will move up and if Knoxville gets a new building look for them to explore the opportunity.  I think Huntsville will stay in the SPHL unless some deal is made with the ECHL.  Yes, Huntsville was there years ago but you are right demographics are different in Huntsville now than in the Blast days.

I think Birmingham maybe in a problem to convince people to forget the ECHL and get used to the SPHL.  The Bulls fans I know from years past still have not gone and will not until they get back to the BJCC and then the ones I have taken myself to games said they saw pretty good play, that is what I think Birmingham is gonna have problems with.

Is there a threat of Knoxville getting a significantly larger municipal venue though?  I can’t see the city justifying building a municipal building with seating capacity that can compete with existing facility the University of Tennessee already has in town because that other building is already there and maintained by someone else’s taxes.  I tend to think an ECHL team that is stable would probably need that size arena though.

 

I just don’t get the level of play argument.  Never have never will, but with what seems like something similar playing out over the Fayetteville forum I can’t deny that some people think that way.  I can Pelham is probably a more inconveniently places venue than the BJCC is though.

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I feel the need to chime in. Everyone keeps referring to arena sizes to base arguments over SPHL and ECHL and FHL. Arena size does not seem to be a factor in hockey as it is with baseball, plus amenities. My hometown, Greensboro, NC, had an ECHL team and we still hold a near 25 year old attendance record for the ECHL. From the context of these discussions, it is being viewed as all ECHL teams have these massive arenas, or much bigger than that of the SPHL.

Greensboro Monarchs played in one, if not the biggest arenas in ECHL back in the 90's. The Greensboro Coliseum is a 21,000+ seat arena for hockey.

Listed capacities for ECHL arenas:

Adirondack 4,794 Small market in the Adirondack Mountains
Allen 6,275 Suburb of Dallas-Fort Worth
Atlanta 11,355 Suburb of Atlanta
Brampton 5,000  
Cincinnati 14,453 Old arena
Florida 7,186  
Fort Wayne 10,480  
Greenville 15,591  
Idaho 5,002  
Indy 6,800 Not even the main arena in Indianapolis
Jacksonville 15,000  
Kalamazoo 5,113  
Kansas City 5,800 Suburb of Kansas City
Maine 6,206  
Manchester 9,852  
Newfoundland 6,287  
Norfolk 8,701 Old arena as well
Orlando 17,353  
Rapid City 5,119 What is in South Dakota? 150,000 Metro population
Reading 7,160  
South Carolina 10,537  
Toledo 8,200  
Tulsa 17,096  
Utah 10,100 Suburb of Salt Lake City
Wheeling 5,406 Old arena
Wichita 13,450  
Worcester 12,239  

 

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