Happy Monday, Roundtable. This week I have “jury duty” which tells me the following things should take place in order: (1) I get summoned (2) the Nashville Predators or Milwaukee Admirals re-sign or sign players whilst I’m doing my civic duties. At least that would be my sort of luck.
In terms of the off-season calendar this is a very exciting week. The 2015 NHL Draft is this Friday and Saturday. Plus, some intriguing storylines could develop in regards to free agency (UFA’s can speak to potential new teams on Thursday – and the deadline for tendering qualifying to RFA’s is next Tuesday). Lots of things are still up in the air as plenty of Nashville and Milwaukee products are pending RFA’s or UFA’s at this time. Much business is still needed to be handled. Saying all of that and there could still be the possibility of trades come the day of the Draft.
~Those Bucks, That Arena, That Subject Again~
There was a good article put together by Tom Daykin of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that poked at the Admirals in relation to the new Milwaukee Bucks arena. It did stir a few social media comments my way so I would again like to tackle this subject.
Firstly, stop worrying about the Admirals existence being tied to their connection to this new arena. The Admirals and Bucks aren’t attached at the hip. They are tenants to the BMO Harris Bradley Center and that’s almost where their relationship with one another ends. The Bucks are the ones under threat of relocation should this project not happen and the new ownership agreement fails. They’re acting with themselves and solely themselves right now because, well, they should. That might come off as cold for some of the Admirals fandom but it makes sense.
At day’s end, the Admirals are and will be based in Milwaukee. It is something that Milwaukee Admirals Governor & CEO Harris Turer made rather clear in a radio appearance in early-May. I think his position that day shouldn’t have changed and it is the correct one. I think everyone should be supportive of the new arena and what it could mean for the city of Milwaukee long term and whether or not it involves the Admirals is not the issue. They’ll remain in Milwaukee. Should the new arena end up being a solid option for them? Great, but they aren’t the ones who are desperate to splash the cash to do so.
Another important factor to remember is that this doesn’t mean once the arena project gets some serious traction that negotiating with the Admirals as a fellow tenant isn’t going to happen. In fact, it would be silly to not reach out to fellow Bradley Center tenants to get involved in the project once more details get cemented.
Now comes the real fun question: should the Admirals go to the new arena or across the street to the UW-Milwaukee Panthers Arena?
I’ve had lots of discussions among friends on this topic and I’ve started coming to the realization that the old MECCA might be the better option for the Admirals no matter what happens. The reason for this is really down to cost and the impact a new arena would have for the ownership of the Admirals and the fans looking to attend games.
According to Daykin, the Admirals paid $90,000 to be a tenant in the 17,800 seater Bradley Center this past playing season. They averaged 5,809 fans (220,745 total) – which was good enough for eleventh in the AHL this past season. The majority of the Admirals revenue stream comes from those ticket sales. A new arena should mean a higher cost to the Admirals to be a tenant. That higher cost should mean a higher ticket price. Will fans pay a major league price for a minor league product? Will the pizazz of attending hockey games at a new arena make the price of a higher ticket an afterthought? Do the Admirals haul back enough money from fans at a new arena that it is financially viable for them to step up to the plate and play ball with the Bucks and join forces? They’re big questions and ones that leave me looking at the alternative.
The MECCA is old. Yes, that is a solid observation many have made and I don’t say that sarcastically. With age comes repairs and adjustments that would be needed to facilitate an AHL hockey team such as the Admirals. Above when discussing the new arena and cost – the same applies here. It’s a weights and balances sort of thing. What would the upgrades cost and how would it compare to that of a tenant cost at a new arena?
Without ballparking any numbers, purely guessing on my part, I would say patch working an arena while paying potentially less of a tenant cost than the Bradley Center would be easier in the pocket book than the new arena. In addition, that Daykin story had an interesting detail that could be corrected with a venue change:
Cash from food and beverages sold at Admirals games goes to the Bucks, Turer said. This past season, for the first time, the hockey team got a share of cash from Admirals T-shirts and other club merchandise sold at the Bradley Center, he said.
Stick to the merchandising portion of that quote and think about the Admirals not seeing a cent for merchandise sales within the Bradley Center up until this last season. I’m not sure of the agreements in place that set something like that into being but hopefully a move to something such as the MECCA could correct.
Merchandising should be a big element to the Admirals business model. It’s a professional franchise that has stood the test of time. There are highly loyal fans and a market to tap into as far as merchandising is concerned. A better deal for the Admirals to pocket venue related merchandise sales with their brand on it should mean better revenue stream.
That leads me to a final point on the MECCA and one that could set it apart from both the new Bucks arena and the Bradley Center. Yes, there are other tenants at the MECCA. Heck, it is called the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena anyways right? The thing is that should the Admirals jump across the street they should be a much bigger player in that barn than they really ever have been at the Bradley Center and probably ever would be in a new arena. Dates for scheduling events should be less taxing, you probably won’t have a Miley Cyrus concert bumping an Admirals game into the frigid months of Winter, and they would be the top professional team playing in the facility. Just thinking about that last line should provide some spring to your step.
In closing, the Admirals are not going anywhere. Fret ye not. If anything just try to imagine it like this. Right now there are two options: (1) the Admirals are part of the new Bucks arena and will follow suit (2) the Admirals will go across the street and make their old home their new home. Those are the options as of now and both have their positives. And that’s they key word here: positives. There are a lot more positives with this situation than there are negatives.
~The Joonas Bros. Reunion~
To end on a much more fun note. Remember Joonas Järvinen? Me too. I really liked that guy. I’m always appreciative of those no nonsense defensemen that can stick to defense, check hard, and be an imposing figure against the opponent’s offensive rush. Järvinen was that type of defenseman. He never really did anything flashy or brilliant but he never did many things stupid or costly to his team either.
The past season Järvinen found himself playing for the brand new KHL team in Russia, HK Sochi. He played 39 games with only an assist with a plus/minus of -8 and was on the ice for the team’s swift playoff exit in the first round by top conference seed CSKA Moscow. Perhaps not the greatest season for him but he was in a pretty competitive league.
So, why am I bringing up Järvinen? Well he has been signed by the Finnish version of the Milwaukee Admirals – HIFK. That’s right. HIFK are the Finnish Milwaukee Admirals: Juuso Puustinen, Joonas Rask, Ryan Thang, etc etc legends.
It only happened once when they were Admirals but on 4/19/13 Järvinen, Puustinen, and Rask were teammates. In that game: Rask scored a goal and an assist, Järvinen had an assist and was a +2, and Puustinen had an assist and was a -2 in an Admirals 6-4 victory over the Charlotte Checkers (Video Highlights).
Now comes the oddity. Another Finnish team has also stepped up and signed Järvinen. That team would be Jokerit of the KHL and they did so at the start of the month. I’m not sure if that means Järvinen’s initial signing with HIFK was ripped up and he zipped back for a job in the KHL rather than Liiga or what but I’d much prefer his initial choice because it would be like he is still an Admiral. Yes. Wearing HIFK gear is like a hipster-y way of saying I support the Milwaukee Admirals and I’m also a big fan of Suomi.
Continued thoughts on the new Bucks arena and the Admirals ties to it? Would you rather see them in a new arena or the old arena with upgrades? Would increased ticket pricing to watch games at the new arena detour you from attending games or purchasing season tickets? Fun question to end on… Is there a European team you follow and are a fan of?