A group of business people wants to bring a second team to the Greater Toronto Area, and the National Hockey League took the group seriously enough to grant it an audience.
The unidentified group met with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in downtown Toronto last week, according to sources. The group proposes to build an arena at the intersection of Highways 427 and 7 in Vaughan, Ont., on land north of Pearson International Airport that’s owned by businessman Victor De Zen.
One source said the group’s market research showed that a second team would not significantly impact the revenues of either the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Buffalo Sabres, provided that it is located in the northern part of the Metro Toronto area.
The NHL is apparently unwilling to consider Hamilton as a location, in part because a team in that city would likely hurt Buffalo’s operation.
The most obvious candidate for a move is the Phoenix Coyotes. The franchise is tied to an arena lease in Glendale, Ariz., until 2033, but the team is bleeding money with losses estimated to be in the area of $35-million (U.S.) this year. The NHL stepped in to keep the team afloat for the 2008-09 season, and there is some speculation that the league may attempt to negotiate a break-fee with Glendale in order to sell the club to a new owner.