During last night’s Senators broadcast, Sportsnet’s headlining analyst Nick Kypreos had some pretty interesting comments about the financial state of the Ottawa Senators.
In retrospect, I wish I PVR’d what he said so that I could write a transcript, but the context was simple. According to Kypreos, even with the incoming money that the Senators will receive from the American national television deal, Rogers’ Canadian television deal, Ottawa’s new regional rights agreement with Bell Media, the organization will still be losing money and that they’re “not out of the woods yet”.
Not out of the woods?
To be clear, the organization is due to receive $17 to $20 million, including invasion fees, as part of Rogers’ new national broadcast agreement with the NHL. Reports suggest that the Senators’ new regional broadcast deal with Bell Media can reach upwards of $400 million over its 12-year lifespan – which means upwards of $33.3 million per season on average (note: accounting for an escalating payout, you’re at least looking at somewhere in the vicinity of $20 million in the first few years of the deal). Throw in the money the team will receive as part of the NHL’s American national contract and you’re looking at a situation in which the team is receiving north of $40 million per season in television revenue. And that’s before the Senators even sell one ticket or piece of merchandise.
How in the hell could Ottawa still be losing money?
Kypreos then insinuated that the Senators were not done in their fight for getting a casino and they will revisit this possibility within the near future.
Ah yes, the casino.
It’s worth noting that in appearance on TSN 1050’s ‘The Drive’, Eugene Melnyk discussed the need to bring another attraction to the neighbouring area near the Canadian Tire Centre and how he still trying to cooperate with the City of Ottawa to make his desires come to fruition.
“You know, you could make that argument and it’s a good argument to make. Does (the arena location) hinder us? I think to a certain extent it does. It’s an effort to get out to Kanata and that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been pushing very, very hard and very publicly to try to expand the activities out in Kanata. I know that the residential areas and a lot of the commercial and business and industrial areas have grown, but we need more entertainment out there. We need more than just one place to go to and I’m trying desperately to do that. If I can get some more cooperation, it could get accomplished. But, I would say it’s a disadvantage but it’s not a disadvantage that can’t be changed. It can turn because I’ve seen other places where… for example, if you go just outside of… to Baltimore. They took a place that was a dump area and they turned it into one of the most beautiful parts of Baltimore. So you can do a lot of things, it just takes time. It takes cooperation from City Hall. It takes cooperation from a lot of people to get this done and we’re going to keep plugging away until we do.”
If Melnyk is still dead set on getting his casino, it’s naturally in his best interests to portray the Senators’ financial situation as challenging so that he can rummage up the support of city council to protect the best interests of his hockey team.
Of course it works in Melnyk’s favour that Ottawa’s reputation for being a walk up crowd kind of sports town has taken a hit with the Senators this season.
Despite the organization has trumpeted its growing season ticket holder base that has surpassed the 12,000 benchmark, the organization has struggled to fill the building on many nights this season.
Could a prospective casino help boost attendance and entice more people to come to the west end and go enjoy a Sens game?
That’s what Melnyk believes and with it, there is this underlying assumption that the casino will make the Senators more viable.
Considering Melnyk has repeatedly discussed how he runs each of his businesses separately, fans expecting the owner to redirect profits from this prospective revenue stream into the Senators’ bottom line (and ultimately the Senators’ player payroll) should probably reconsider that line of thought.