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dggoddard
12-10-2010, 10:19 AM
Very interesting article and the line that caught my eye, "Michigan's ticket revenue from college hockey will exceed its Hoops ticket revenue by $1 million this season." Wow.

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748703493504576007943138317876-lMyQjAxMTAwMDAwOTEwNDkyWj.html



By NICOLE AUERBACH

Ann Arbor, Mich. — This Saturday, Michigan will host Michigan State in an outdoor hockey game at its football stadium before an anticipated crowd of 113,000 people. For two hours, "The Big Chill," as the event is being called, will shove college hockey into an unusual spot: the center of the national sports discussion.

To optimists, there's some evidence this game could be college hockey's apotheosis: the moment it finally muscles up to the same table as its bigger siblings, basketball and football.

The Michigan athletic department sold nearly 80,000 tickets for the game on the first day of sales and the event has been essentially sold out since October. Thanks to the enormity of the crowd—it will shatter the attendance record for the number of people watching a hockey game by nearly 40,000—Michigan expects its hockey program to bring in more ticket revenue than basketball this season by a margin of more than $1 million.

This unprecedented game comes at a time when the sport is already expanding beyond its traditional boundaries. Paul Kelly, the president of College Hockey Inc., the year-old marketing arm of NCAA hockey, estimated that up to five more schools may upgrade their club-hockey teams to varsity status in the next few years.

Penn State will become the nation's 59th Division I hockey school when its team goes varsity in the 2012-13 season. The school is also building an arena that will cost as much as $80 million. New arenas are on the way at Notre Dame and the Rochester Institute of Technology and Wisconsin is building a new practice facility.

Joe Bertagna, the commissioner of Hockey East, pointed to signs the sport's appeal is crossing geographic boundaries. The percentage of college hockey players who hail from non-traditional hockey-playing areas has risen to 10.6% this season from just 3.8% nine years ago.

Now the question is: How far can college hockey go?

Penn State's ascension to Division I has led to speculation that the Big Ten will form its own hockey conference, since it will have the requisite six teams. (Currently, the Big Ten's five hockey schools are split up in two hockey-only conferences, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and Western Collegiate Hockey Association.)

Other cold-weather schools with successful club programs, like Illinois, could also make the move to Division I. An Illinois spokesman said the school has no plans to consider adding hockey as a varsity program.

And then there's TV: The Big Ten Network, the conference's lucrative three-year-old sports channel, is a natural outlet that can carry games both regionally and nationally. The network is broadcasting nine hockey games this season. "We'd be interested in doing more," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk. "It certainly has quite a bit of appeal in this part of the country."

Big Ten schools, and Michigan in particular, demonstrate the sport's potential. The Wolverines draw near-sellout crowds at every home game at Yost Ice Arena, which holds 6,637 fans. And hockey tickets can be $30 cheaper than football tickets. Michigan athletic director David Brandon calls hockey the "best ticket in town."

Hockey converts say the size of the venues, the proximity to the action and the dedication of the fans—not to mention the colorful (and sometime obscene) chants they aim at opposing goalies make the atmosphere more appealing. "It's not people who vaguely associate with Michigan hockey," said David Schwartz, a junior. "The people who go to the games love the team and have an intimate knowledge of the sport."

Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson called the small but fervent group of hockey fans "friends" of hockey.

Still, those close to college hockey understand that the sport hasn't come close to its ceiling—and isn't likely to get there overnight.

Hockey has historically been a Northern sport with the highest participation in states like Minnesota, Michigan, and Massachusetts. The 58 Division I hockey programs are fewer than half the number of top-tier college football teams (120) and is light years behind the 347 programs in college basketball. The hockey season, which runs from October into April, coincides with both basketball and football.

The size of the Big Chill crowd isn't purely a testament to hockey. The novelty of the event and the rivalry between the two schools played a role, as did Michigan's decision to hold down prices.

Michigan State's hockey team is popular on campus, but has lately been competing with the school's highly ranked football and basketball teams, both of which are regularly on national television. The Spartans had a 323-game streak of consecutive home hockey sellouts from 1985 to 2004, but have seen hockey attendance dip since their 2007 national championship season.

The sport has also sabotaged itself in small ways. While the NCAA hockey tournament—with its single-elimination format and chaotic, unpredictable nature—is one of the most entertaining spectacles in college sports, its attendance in regional rounds can be weak. The problem: most games are held in neutral sites. Last season, when Miami (Ohio) beat Michigan in double overtime in Fort Wayne, Ind., for a spot in the Frozen Four, just 3,204 fans showed up.

"You'll see growth" in hockey, said former Michigan athletic director Bill Martin, "but it won't be exponential."

Whether or not the Big Chill serves as a seismic event in college sports, there's no question the event is creating excitement. The throwback uniforms Michigan players will wear Saturday have been hot sellers on campus. "It's a great opportunity for new fans to come and watch that wouldn't normally," Michigan State hockey coach Rick Comley said. "It creates a unique opportunity to sit outside in the elements and watch the game as it was invented."

—Darren Everson contributed to this article

dogs2012
12-10-2010, 12:20 PM
Great article. Love Berenson calling hockey fans "friends". Should be a fun game to watch in Ann Arbor this weekend.

Osorojo
12-10-2010, 12:48 PM
If MSU's recruit Travis Walsh could play in this game and repeat the spectacular goal he scored for the Muskegon Lumbertons the popularity of and income from college hockey would explode. The greatest slam-dunks ever recorded have nothing on the Walsh move.

WeWantMore
12-10-2010, 12:56 PM
I kind of harrumphed when I read this line yesterday.

The Big Ten Network, the conference's lucrative three-year-old sports channel, is a natural outlet that can carry games both regionally and nationally. The network is broadcasting nine hockey games this season. "We'd be interested in doing more," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk. "It certainly has quite a bit of appeal in this part of the country."

Biddco
12-10-2010, 01:01 PM
Great article. Love Berenson calling hockey fans "friends". Should be a fun game to watch in Ann Arbor this weekend.

Not sure if you like it in the same context but I feel like the biggest fans of it are all a tight knit of "friends". Friends is a nice way to put it :D

Good article. And I wonder how often Michigan hockey beats bounceyball. I wonder if selling out the Big House has anything to do with it...

Puck Swami
12-10-2010, 02:01 PM
Despite Dave Starman's many reservations about this story(http://www.uscho.com/2010/12/09/commentary-dont-be-fooled-into-thinking-outdoor-games-are-key-to-growing-college-hockey/), any national ink that college hockey gets is a good thing...

kire_mailliw
12-11-2010, 10:57 AM
anyone know what programs besides Illinois are "rumored" to be making the jump to DI?

GoNU5
12-11-2010, 11:36 AM
anyone know what programs besides Illinois are "rumored" to be making the jump to DI?

Indiana, Syracuse, but that discussion has been made multiple times, no one really knows what 5 programs Kelly's referring to, just idle speculation.

Osorojo
12-11-2010, 12:32 PM
Wow! "More hockey ticket revenue than basketball." ". . . Lucrative three-year-old sports channel . . ." ". . . the sport's appeal is crossing geographic boundaries." Despite frenzied claims to the contrary college hockey is changing in popularity, TV viewership, financial importance, venues, fan distribution, and of course reliance upon NHL-bound players.
Hockey conservatives are apparently mistaken in their beliefs about all these points. Perhaps they are also mistaken in their rabid rejection of any sort of accommodation or compromise between college and professional hockey programs. Time will tell.

se41
12-11-2010, 12:55 PM
THe usual suspects for moving from Club to DI are: Navy, Oklahoma, Lindenwood, Illinois, and Iowa State. I think the only thing holding Navy back is their rink, and I thought they were supposed to have a new one built by now. Oklahoma stated it wanted to be a DI program by the 10 year mark, which is approaching. Everything else at Lindenwood is about to be DI, their men's team just needs a league to play in and they'll probably jump. And Iowa State has been going DI for the last 20 years so that announcement should come any day now.

hanasoni
12-11-2010, 02:26 PM
If MSU's recruit Travis Walsh could play in this game and repeat the spectacular goal he scored for the Muskegon Lumbertons the popularity of and income from college hockey would explode. The greatest slam-dunks ever recorded have nothing on the Walsh move.

Is that Ron Mason's grandson, and also the late Shawn Walsh's grandson?

Happy
12-11-2010, 02:36 PM
If MSU's recruit Travis Walsh could play in this game and repeat the spectacular goal he scored for the Muskegon Lumbertons the popularity of and income from college hockey would explode. The greatest slam-dunks ever recorded have nothing on the Walsh move.

it was just a trick shoot out goal, it wasn't like it happened during a game. That is one reason the WCHA is still the best conference, no ***** shootouts.

Zudnic
12-11-2010, 08:02 PM
anyone know what programs besides Illinois are "rumored" to be making the jump to DI?

The Illinois thing detracted from the credibility of this article. On what basis do they say Illinois might start hockey? Then their spokesman says they have no plans to consider it.

Star2City
12-12-2010, 11:36 AM
THe usual suspects for moving from Club to DI are: Navy, Oklahoma, Lindenwood, Illinois, and Iowa State. I think the only thing holding Navy back is their rink, and I thought they were supposed to have a new one built by now. Oklahoma stated it wanted to be a DI program by the 10 year mark, which is approaching. Everything else at Lindenwood is about to be DI, their men's team just needs a league to play in and they'll probably jump. And Iowa State has been going DI for the last 20 years so that announcement should come any day now.

When Lindenwood is officially accepted as a DII team (it is transitioning from NAIA which takes three years), it will be able to sponsor men's hockey.

The WCHA's McLeod mentioned on TV during a period break at a UND game, that he had discussions with Minnesota State-Moorhead and Minot State joining, in the event the Minnesota and Wisconsin leave. Minot State is one year ahead of Lindenwood in their NAIA to Division II transition. MSU-Moorhead would likely add a team now if they could get in a league. If McLeod adds those two, that would practically force UND, Denver, and CC out of the league, but those three could be gone anyway to an anti-BTHC.

Another possible case is Rhode Island: they just moved their football from the Colonial to the NEC, which mandates 30 less scholarships. With that move, URI may have just freed up enough scholarships as well as other expenses (no more flights to south of the Mason-Dixon) to at least partially fund a men's hockey team.

UML
12-12-2010, 01:50 PM
The Illinois thing detracted from the credibility of this article. On what basis do they say Illinois might start hockey? Then their spokesman says they have no plans to consider it.

I agree with you about the Illinois part of the article. Why not just leave that out of the article?

GoNU5
12-12-2010, 01:52 PM
When Lindenwood is officially accepted as a DII team (it is transitioning from NAIA which takes three years), it will be able to sponsor men's hockey.

The WCHA's McLeod mentioned on TV during a period break at a UND game, that he had discussions with Minnesota State-Moorhead and Minot State joining, in the event the Minnesota and Wisconsin leave. Minot State is one year ahead of Lindenwood in their NAIA to Division II transition. MSU-Moorhead would likely add a team now if they could get in a league. If McLeod adds those two, that would practically force UND, Denver, and CC out of the league, but those three could be gone anyway to an anti-BTHC.

Another possible case is Rhode Island: they just moved their football from the Colonial to the NEC, which mandates 30 less scholarships. With that move, URI may have just freed up enough scholarships as well as other expenses (no more flights to south of the Mason-Dixon) to at least partially fund a men's hockey team.

I'm confused, why exactly would UND, CC, and Denver be forced out if the WCHA gets back to 12 teams?

Rhode Island would also likely only move up if there was a slot open, which there isn't really at this point (unless HE wants to make an 11 team conference). Of course, if Navy were to upgrade, it would inevitably want to join Atlantic Hockey, which could cause a shift in the 3 conferences in the Northeast.

Just a wild pitch: Navy joins Atlantic Hockey, Ivy League forms a separate conference (probably would be more likely if UPenn moved up as well), ECAC and Atlantic Hockey reshuffle, and Rhode Island either joins one of those conferences or squeezes into Hockey East

Puck Swami
12-12-2010, 02:11 PM
I'm confused, why exactly would UND, CC, and Denver be forced out if the WCHA gets back to 12 teams?


They wouldn't be, but they'd probably leave the WCHA first. These three schools have serious hockey revenue targets that cannot be met by playing a steady diet of Moorhead, Minot State, Bemidji State, MSUM, SCSU, etc. if the Big 10 schools leave. CC, UND and Denver have sunk hundreds of millions into hockey, and need to play schools that can fill their buildings.

GoNU5
12-12-2010, 02:29 PM
They wouldn't be, but they'd probably leave the WCHA first. These three schools have serious hockey revenue targets that cannot be met by playing a steady diet of Moorhead, Minot State, Bemidji State, MSUM, SCSU, etc. if the Big 10 schools leave. CC, UND and Denver have sunk hundreds of millions into hockey, and need to play schools that can fill their buildings.

You're pretty involved with this stuff, where do you think they would go? Try and carve a new league from stronger CCHA schools like Miami and Notre Dame, or try and convince schools considering adding hockey like Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Linenwood to join them? Actually, if you could get Oklahoma and Iowa State to join Denver, UND, and CC you could have a pretty strong league with a lot of interest.

GoNU5
12-12-2010, 02:29 PM
stupid multi-post

MichFan
12-12-2010, 03:08 PM
Very interesting article and the line that caught my eye, "Michigan's ticket revenue from college hockey will exceed its Hoops ticket revenue by $1 million this season." Wow.

Not too surprising given that it mentions only ticket revenue. The number of home games is comparable (20 this year for basketball, 19 for hockey). They sell more student season tickets for hockey than for basketball, and a few years they've sold more total season tickets. Crisler is bigger, but rarely sells out, unlike Yost. I'm sure that hockey ticket revenue is almost as much as basketball even in an average year. 110,000 for this one game certainly puts it over the top; the revenue must be like selling out Crisler for 8-9 games.

Ticket revenue and total profit aren't the same thing. Hockey doesn't make as much money as basketball because the TV money isn't there and the expenses are higher. If hockey made more money than basketball, then I'd be surprised.