If you follow this hockey market as closely as I do, you know the usual suspects in Hartford hockey.
AEG, who currently runs the XL Center.
MSG, who owns the hockey team, the Connecticut Whale.
Then there is Whaler Sports & Entertainment, the small marketing firm of the Connecticut Whale, headed by Howard Baldwin Sr., whom MSG severed ties with over concerns of WSE’s pay-ables this past week.
WSE could not afford the rent at the XL Center and in their defense the rent was two and a half times larger than the average team in the AHL. WSE signed a contract that was the most expensive of all 30 teams. Does that sound reasonable to anyone else?
WSE attempted to negotiate a new lease to lower the rent. It would have kept dozens of WSE employees and a new business in Hartford. It sounds simple, and would have been best for all, but of course it was anything but simple.
It appeared close at times but a new lease never materialized for WSE. WSE contacts had told me on more than one occasion things were looking up but that might have been a stalling tactic by AEG.
MSG is a huge billion dollar company that has their AHL hockey team in a contract to stay in Hartford until the end of this upcoming season.
After this upcoming season the team is rumored to be close to announcing a possible two year extension with AEG to play in the XL Center.
You may be asking yourself how is AEG and MSG making an agreement to stay without knowing who will run the XL Center after next June?
Its a great question, unfortunately no one seems to know the answer?
The Bushnell has been mentioned to be interested in running the XL Center along with a few other interested parties. It will be hard for them to get noticed, really hard, all the talk is about AEG continuing on and MSG being right there too.
You have to admit that it would be nice for Hartford to have a local interest in the mix instead of two companies from the two largest markets in the United States.
MSG, who are the owners of the New York Rangers, apparently they became very concerned with WSE’s pay-ables, so much so that they said they received a call from Reebok, the maker of the Whale jerseys, about collecting payment.
The Rangers have taken back control of the marketing of the Connecticut Whale. WSE is completely out and now will begin working on repaying debt that the comapny incrued while runnning the team.
With two billion dollar companies and a small marketing firm it was the Hartford story of two kings and a pauper.
WSE admits they went into the deal with more heartfelt thoughts than head strong business decisions. It was a twenty five thousand dollar per game rent that WSE had to pay to AEG. They also had to pay more than a one million dollar franchise fee to the New York Rangers.
When WSE got into trouble and the debt began to mount AEG might have balked at continuing talks for a new lease agreement with WSE.
From the fans point of view it looked like the rich getting richer, and the people with good intentions getting shown the door.
What is next for Hartford, well it does appear that AEG and MSG, the owners of the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers, are striking up a new partnership that will keep the Connecticut Whale here another two years after this upcoming season.
The two kings will still be here but the pauper may be played by the citizens of Hartford. Especially if tickets, concessions and parking prices head north from here.
During first and second period intermissions you can get yourself some nine dollar beers, five dollar sodas and ten dollar chicken fingers, oh my!