Credit Where Credit is Due

by Steve, March 25th, 2008

New York City bar keep Jim Goldsmith has finished his second season as owner of the Winter Hawks with his operation under scrutiny from the Western Hockey League. Commissioner Ron Robison has ordered Goldsmith to step down as director of hockey operations and renegotiate his lease with the Trailblazers. There’s been a fair amount of posturing in the press, including Goldsmith complaining about the lease, saying “…do we have to just feed the pig?”

Not a good way to start the renegotiation talks, and the Blazers have been predictably cool to this kind of bombast. Their response? “…[T]hey need to get their fan base back.”

Scared shitless that we might lose our franchise in Portland, I wrote an e-mail to City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who last fall intervened on behalf of the Hawks to get their replay screens installed in the Coliseum. Here’s part of what I wrote:

The Trailblazers do not seem interested in renegotiating the lease, which they say currently brings them revenue equivalent to one concert from the entire season’s games.

My question to you is whether the city can do anything to prevail on the Trailblazers to renegotiate, or if this is entirely up to the Trailblazers’ management. Since the city owns the venue, it seems to me we should have some say in this.

While the Winter Hawks clearly aren’t a big money maker for the city or the Trailblazers, the value of this team to the community transcends the direct revenue they bring. As you know, Portland has a rich hockey tradition, going back to the Portland Rosebuds, the first US-based team to play for the Stanley Cup in 1916.

It would be a real shame if Portland lost the Winter Hawks because they are nothing but chump change to Paul Allen. Our only hope may be if the City of Portland were to step in at this point.

Is there any chance of that happening?

Thanks for you consideration.

Randy got right back to me, and confirmed my suspicions that the Winter Hawks owner’s style was hurting his own chances of renegotiating:

I do not believe the issue of re-negotiating a lease with the Trailblazers is exclusively because of the Trailblazers conduct. I have been party to some of the negotiations between the Blazers and the Winterhawks and I was not convinced, after that meeting, that the Blazers were to blame for the deteriorating relationship.

I will continue to do what I can to help improve the venue for the Winterhawks.

So there you have it, hockey fans. If you’re trying to get one of the world’s richest men to renegotiate your lease, it’s probably best to not start things off by calling him a pig.

Just sayin’.

Update, 4/8/2008: Randy’s got a lot more to say today.

6 Responses to “Credit Where Credit is Due”

  1. Comment from Teka:

    I should let you know, as you’d find this, well, more hilarious than the above, that I was asked early on in the Hershey season by an older woman if i were Jakub Klepis’ girlfriend, as I have a Winterhawks sticker on my (still OR license-plated) car.

    It amazes me how much extraneous information hockey fans can keep track of mentally. His first season here and someone knows that he was a Winterhawk back in the day? Yow.

  2. Pingback from The Big M Goes to the Source:

    […] proprietor of the excellent More Hockey, Less War, gives us another perspective on the battle between the Winter Hawks and the Blazers. This time from the perspective of Portland […]

  3. Comment from Mark Loefler:

    Maybe if he could spell Winter Hawks correctly – it’s two words, not one, I would be more apt to believe that he was serious about helping the hockey team.

    The team should also look internally at the quality of it’s front office employees, including the ownership. The entire operation has gone from something that Portland can be proud of to a forgotten team. It really is sad.

  4. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    I want my damn links page back!

  5. Comment from Darnell:

    Do you think the “Trailblazers conduct” is fueled by their desire to (one day) bring an NHL team to Portland? This almost happened a few years back with the Penguins. Rumor has it that Paul Allen had a check printed and ready to send to the NHL. Unfortunately, Mario Lemieux managed to keep the team. This former “commitment” was before the new NHL CBA, which now includes a salary cap. It makes more sense economically now than then to buy an NHL team.

    Portland is one of the biggest cities with only one professional sports team. There are always pundits who believe the NFL or MLB have a place here. Wrong. The people clearly will not support using tax dollars to fund a new stadium. The NHL could move right into the Rose Garden – an arena that is hockey friendly and is no longer restricted by previously economically challenging leases for luxury boxes. There’s a decent hockey fan base in Portland and the NHl would welcome a strategically place team in the Pac NW.

    Lastly, the VP/COO of the Blazers and in charge of arena operations is Mike Golub. He used to work for the NY Rangers. Certainly the new management of the Blazers and Rose Garden can see the potential revenue opportunity of bringing an NHL franchise to Portland. It’s really the only major sport franchise makes sense in this town.

  6. Comment from Steve:

    As I’ve written elsewhere, it doesn’t much matter whether or not Allen wants another big-league revenue stream for the Rose Garden… Even if he does, he’s in line behind Kansas City, Houston, Las Vegas, etc.

    The NHL isn’t expanding, and with only a couple franchises in trouble in their current markets, the competition for any moving team would be fierce.

    I’m not sure what they really think of major junior hockey. My guess is, they could take it or leave it, but when Goldberg makes a nuisance of himself, they’d probably rather just leave it.

    Anyway, the current buzz is that the ECHL is looking seriously at Portland, which would be a clear step down from major junior for my money.