If the group that hopes to bring the Phoenix Coyotes to Saskatoon for five games ever pulls it off, do not expect to see the Saskatoon Blades on the welcome wagon.
Jack Brodsky, the Blades' owner, is not thrilled about the possibility of seeing the Coyotes invade the Credit Union Centre, although he is not too worked up yet because the group, known as Ice Edge, is a long shot in its quest to buy the NHL's Coyotes. A United States bankruptcy court auction for the Coyotes will be held Wednesday and the group of Canadian and American businessmen has yet to submit a bid for the Coyotes, although a representative says they are close.
"They are also still working on their partnership group and that usually speaks volumes," said Brodsky, whose family has owned the Western Hockey League team for decades. "For now, it's all speculation."
But if Daryl Jones and his partners in Ice Edge somehow wind up with the Coyotes and get NHL approval to play five games in Saskatoon, Brodsky will not be so sanguine.
"I guess we feel like it certainly comes in and takes revenue from us and corporate sponsorship revenue as well," he said. "To me, it opens a can of worms for the other NHL teams struggling in cities in the Deep South. Do they all start playing games up here to raise revenue?"
Brodsky said no one from the Ice Edge group consulted him before speaking to city officials about scheduling games at the Credit Union Centre, which is about to be expanded by around 1,400 seats to 14,700. However, Jones has said they took the Blades into account when they talked to the city about dates.
While the idea of having a few NHL games might appeal initially to hockey fans in Saskatchewan, Brodsky is not sure everyone will be excited.
"For the citizens of Saskatoon, this has to be a long-term thing," he said. "This can't be a short-term cash grab by the Coyotes. I don't think anyone wants to be used for a few games just to increase their revenues."
Brodsky also wonders about the group's hopes to realize gross revenue of $1.2-million a game, which works out to an average ticket price of more than $80. That is a large bite for a city of 200,000 people.
The Blades may have one weapon at their disposal. They are the only permanent hockey tenant at the arena and Brodsky says they have some protection in their lease from other teams invading their turf.
"We've always been supportive of our building and our city," he said. "But we are the only permanent hockey tenant."