As I had stated in previous posts, the contract at the XL Center has been awarded to Global Spectrum. Global Spectrum is a name you may have heard before, since they are part of the corporation that owns and runs the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. For those that don’t know, the contract that Whaler Sports and Entertainment (owned by Howard Baldwin) had with the XL Center, had a $25,000 per game rent. That same contract also did not allow money from concessions, to be divided into any form of profit for WSE. When WSE was overcome in debt, and even leaving the NHL affiliate, the New York Rangers, picking up debt compiled to Reebok, enough was enough.
At that point, the day to day operations were taken over by MSG. Fans in Hartford had been aware since last year when whispers turned to chants in the XL Center, that the contract was ending at the end of the 2013 season. Since the beginning of this season, there were rumors that the Rangers were packing up and taking their AHL afiilliate elsewhere. Jim Schoenfeld (GM of the Whale/Assistant GM of the Rangers) had stated numerous times when speaking to media that the New York Rangers would be open to staying in Hartford. Schoenfeld stated that the geographic location was perfect for the Rangers (as seen in the past weeks with the continuous call ups and send downs). Schoenfeld stated that the problems were piling, and from a business stand point, it would be irresponsible for the Rangers to not consider other options.
The Rangers organization had multiple hurdles to overcome to make the affiliation stay in Hartford. First of all, there was nobody to negotiate a contract with for the 2014 season. Second, if the XL Center did not offer the next contract holder a better price on the rent, their was no team in the AHL that could successfully operate from Hartford. To add to the confusion, the Adirondack Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers AHL affiliate) was leaving New York, leaving a vacancy in their arena. Several URL’s had been purchased by the owners of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NY Islanders AHL affiliate). Some of the URL’s were connecticutrangers.com and ctrangers.com. This obviously added to the rumor mill, and led most of the Whale’s fan base to believe the Rangers were leaving town.
Recently, the XL Center announced that Global Spectrum took the contract over for the next 10 years. Soon after that, Global Spectrum released a statement that they were in advance negotiations with MSG. Shortly after, Global Spectrum announced that they have locked the New York Rangers affiliation through the 2016 season, with a 2 year extension option. GS will pay a 1.5 million dollar affiliation fee. GS was able to secure a $10,000 per game rent. Even more pleasing to what seems to be the majority of the CT fan base, they will even keep the Whale logo. It should be noted that the CDRA will have to approve the entire contract later in the month, and there is no reason to believe that they won’t.
It is my opinion that based on the fact that Connecticut could be interpreted as an NHL swing state (centrally located between Boston Bruins and New York Rangers), and that the Rangers brought the AHL the year after the NHL left the state, that the Rangers are here (CT) to stay. The only way I believe that the New York Rangers will not keep their AHL team located in Hartford, is if in 2018 an NHL team is located here, which is an entirely different, and longer story. So here’s to the Rangers, thanks.
As always, thanks for reading. #BleedGreen