View Full Version : What do you need for a real pro league?
08-21-2001, 03:26 AM
I have been out of town but before I left the talk about a new pro league potentially starting up and now that I am back, it still seems like a heated discussion. With using as much restraint as possible when it comes to slander, what does a pro league need?
Here is some of my ideas:
Calihockey's keys to a sucessful pro league
1. Respect of the Pros- The guys that play NARCh pro and the other pro tournaments (ex. players from team hyper) must be involved and respect your league. Paying grandma and grandpa (smart a$$ remark, no slander intended) to play professional roller hockey will not bring in crowds.
2. Working Agreement with NARCh- NARCh has earned the respect of the pros and the factory teams. This means that you must earn NARCh's respect. This means you must set a schedule so the pros can make all your league games and the NARCh Pro tournaments. They also have great refs, having NARCh refs would help gain stability in the eyes of fans and players.
3. The Key Markets must be targeted- The main markets in the U.S. and Canada must have a team or you must schedule some away-away games in those markets to gain support for your league. Key Markets:
A. Orange County (Anaheim)- They were able to seat 13,000 at games back in the RHI days.
B. Los Angeles- With the recent sucess of the Kings, the Los Angeles area keeps getting more embrassive with the game of hockey. Thanks to the great one, we have a good target market here
c. San Diego- Former RHI Championship city. The fans are supportive here.
D. Bay Area- Atleast 1 team here. Prefer to have 2! Nor Cal can support a pro team
E. Portland- Roller hockey is getting big in Oregon. Help it grow with a pro team
F. Seattle- Same concept as Portland
G. Vancouver- Home of Paul Kariya and very large 2001 British Columbia NARCh qualifier(actually it was surrey I believe)
H. Phoenix- They need a pro team as well. Arizona is too disconnected to the rest of the hockey world to not have a pro team. No pro team or atleast games there and you lose a multi-million viewer market.
I. Las Vegas- This will be a hard one. Most pro teams in Vegas have problems. Work out deals with the Casinos and get them involved. The money of their tourists could be spent buying tickets
J. Denver- No brainer. Av's fans need off season hockey between stanley cup hoists
K. Dallas- Without a team in texas there is a big geographically gab that could lose about 10-15 million viewers I believe it is.
L. Miami- Florida is getting to be a bigger and bigger player in the roller hockey scene as time goes on.
M. Orlando- There is a reason why they were able to keep a pro team here before for so long. Loyal fans
N. Atlanta- Atlanta lost the Flames and the Knights, but have been rumored to be looking for a new pro hockey team. hint hint!
O. Carolina Area- Another Geographically need. Going from Atlanta to Pennsylvania without a team would be harmful.
P. Philly- A Hockeytown. Win this market over and you will have a franchise with a lot of loyal fans
Q. Pittsburgh- I know its sounds wierd, but Thank you Mario. Hockey is gaining its old glory thanks to his return. A team here and in Philly would create a good rivalry and good fan support.
R. New York- 2 teams needed. one on Long Island and one in New York. Two very different markets but both able to keep a pro team
s. Boston- they are catchin up and love their bruins. Summer hockey could be a good idea here
T. Buffalo- Any league looking to stay afloat needs the wings.
U. Toronto- so much roller hockey in this area now.
V. Ottawa- a pro hockey league without a team in the capital of canada? Thats like having no baseball in New York and Boston.
W. Montreal- Geographically need. Canada needs to be a part of any league.
X. Edmonton- Geograhics again
Y. Calgary- Tough for roller but very needed
25 teams? Yes, the number of teams doesnt matter. How they are run does.
4. TV- Above I talked about Markets and Viewers because TV is Pro Sports.
5. Owners must be able to substain loses for 5-10 years. Walt Disney almost lost everything building disneyland.
6. $$$- MONEY! enough said!
7. Advertising- Let as many people know about the league as possible. Go all out for opening nights. Have a lot of public events
8. Reasonable prices- Don't try to charge the same price as NHL teams do
Let's get some feedback now!
08-21-2001, 08:51 AM
I think Calihockey should run a pro league!
Man, you nailed it. Especially the markets.
For one of my college business classes, I wrote a business plan like I was going to start a league, and everything you said here was in my business plan. I got an "A", so it looks like a good idea.
I think if a league were to start up in the west, you should start with a small number of teams for the first year, like 8. Then as the league gets going each year, add 2-6 teams.
My first 8 cities would be:
-either Sacramento or Vancouver
As far as ticket prices, I was going through my junk yesterday and saw an old Denver Daredevils (RHI) ticket from the 1996 season. It costed $8, to sit anywhere in the arena.
It does take a ton of money and time to start up a league, and I think that is why you don't see a whole lot of people trying to start something.
08-21-2001, 10:44 AM
San Diego never won the RHI Championship.
What about St. Louis? St. Louis and Anaheim were the only two cities to have an RHI team every year RHI played. St. Louis also is the current RHI champion.
08-21-2001, 11:19 AM
Oh yea, San Jose Rhinos not the San Diego Barracudas. my mistake!
08-21-2001, 11:35 AM
You want 25 teams off the bat? There is not enough depth in roller hockey to support 25 pro teams. You're talking 250 to 300 players plus goalies and practice squads. There's maybe 10 pro level goalies in the sport. Let's not talk about the teams from MA that played PRO at NARCh, that was ugly even if some of them made the playoffs
Keep it on the west coast so the PRO guys can work their factory jobs then play games on the weekend.
The first year it should be exhibitions, playing in different areas, seeing what the market actually supports
Long Island maybe for pro..but those kids never have any $ and half the guys there would think they should be in the league anyway.
NYC, not a chance, no one in all those grassroots leagues gives a crap about pro roller,
Dallas- not enough people care, not too many play outside the Madhatters and that Cucumber team
Carolinao - well maybe the Crushers could come back and be the whooping boys of the league
I'm too busy to respond to each market..but you have to go where the fans are..not the most people..the fans in the beginning are in CA..
Anyone see Lasek in XGames, that kid is sick!!
It's a good goal but its like RHI's mega expansion back in the day.
08-21-2001, 12:36 PM
Do you have a problem with the east philly would be a good place to have a team
08-21-2001, 12:41 PM
Forget all the California cities, you would not be able to afford the buildings. There are no smaller arenas that are affordable.
And afterall, Anaheim was the only city that actually had crowds. San Diego and LA just didn't draw. Anaheim had crowds because the facility was relatively new and lots of people could grab a free ticket and go.
RHI started during the reach for the sky days of inline hockey. In other words, Dennis Murphy convinced many of the owners he knew from his days of the WHA that inlinehockey was going to be bigger than ice and eventually the NHL would have to buy RHI out. That's the only reason the semi-deep pocketed owners ever got evolved.
Back them the decision to start RHI was a business decison. Today these leagues sound like a bunch of dudes who like inline hockey and want to get a pro thing going.
RHI wasn't perfect but it at least made the sport look pretty good. Pro Beach, MLRH, whatever, just make this sport look real small time and an embarrassment to the sport itself. Somehow I sense NARHL and the latest crop will only do the same.
08-21-2001, 03:07 PM
Well you need at least 8 teams in an area and where travel isn't a big problem, Philly would probably support a team..but not many other places in the east can..and if you have to take players from the east to form the teams..the depth isn't there..AAA isn't pro...
08-21-2001, 03:09 PM
Good point..I kind of forget I never paid for an RHI ticket, and that included championship games..
08-21-2001, 03:33 PM
Where do you live east or west
08-21-2001, 05:48 PM
Where I live has no bearing..I have no bias against either coast or the area in the middle
All one has to do is look at the players who would make up an actual pro league..80% of them are out west...
Send Marple to NARCh without CJ, never mind that Breakout crap they used to play each winter.They won't win platinum. Good solid players..but most of them aren't pro..a couple guys on each team..like those asian guy and the bald dude on Scorpions..Gresczyk is ok..but he's a weird dude..could fill out a pro team.
I'd like to see a pro league, I get the feeling because you think I feel the league should be out west i'm against the east..not true.but a pro league has to be a 2nd job for most people who play..
even the chicknba only get 35,000 or so for a season...and they have the nba behind them and apartments, travel etc..
Want to do a pro league..
film it over a long weekend similar to PBH..
get it on cable..
show games on cable..espn34 maybe..
have the sponsors put in the factory teams..and have a $ prize...
use as a springboard..
08-21-2001, 06:22 PM
You make a lot of great points. It seems that the one thing that's needed to make your idea of a real pro league a reality is somebody with VERY deep pockets. Unfortunately, as we all know many people with that kind of money have been scared off because of the past history of the pro leagues (RHI versions I, II & III, MLRH & Pro Beach). So if it's not going to be an individual maybe it would be a company of some sort. How about one of the manufacturers? No, most of them can barely keep their heads above water now. How about a TV network? After the XFL fiasco, I don't think so and forget about ESPN. They got burned twice now. Maybe this new league can be financed by going public? With the stock market in the crapper and the reprocussions from the dot.com calamity, no one is going to buy pro roller hockey stock. So where's the money going to come from? The answer is no where. That's why there hasn't been pro roller hockey for the past two years.
My thoughts on a what's needed for a pro league is to completely erase the past and start from scratch like it's never been done before. That means start small; keep it on a regional level in order to keep expenses down. Travel is one of the biggest expenses and if you can keep it down to a bus or van league, it would help.
What about players? Well, any league would like to have the best players available. Who are those best players? No offense to the roller hockey purists out there, but some of the best roller hockey players happen to also play minor league ice hockey as well. Just look at NARCh Pro. Those teams are made up of a mix of exclusive roller hockey players and players that play both ice and roller. That's the way it is. Get used to it. How do you get these players to play in your league. It takes money. For example, for a 14 man roster playing a 14 game season at $250 per game is $49,000 for the regular season or $3,500 per player for the regular season. This isn't even taking into consideration road game per diem, housing, misc. expenses or playoff prize money. And let me tell you, $3,500 isn't going to get you the best players. Oh, it will get you some pretty good players, but not the best. So if you don't have that kind of money to spend, what do you do? Again, keep it regional. Every region has a some good players. You've all been talking about it on this board recently. As I said, any league starting out is going to have to keep expense down. So that means keep players pay down. Either pay them minimal money (maybe incentive based like only per win) or not at all and just offer prize money based on how your team finishes. By offering your players something you can technically call your league a pro league and the more money you offer will result in a higher caliber of player. But my thought is that every regional league can come up with some pretty good players that will play for next to nothing to start with. As your league grows, you will be able to offer more monetary compensation.
When starting from scratch, it's still important to think about the future. Calihockey made a good point about putting teams in major markets. You can still do that in a regional-based league. When putting teams together in your league keep in mind what may happen if TV ever wants to get involved again. Make sure each team represents a major market, even if they're playing in a suburb. Have the major market name in the team name. It will make your league look like a "real" pro league now and may benefit you down the road.
What about arena size? Does arena size matter? :) When starting from scratch, no it doesn't. When starting out you have to start small and grow with your fan base. If you look at just about any major market you can find a variety of venues with different seating capacities, from an amateur rink with 1,000 seats all the way up to an NHL rink and everything in between. Play in what you can afford, just keep in mind the location of the venue in relation to your demographics and don't play in a dump. Image is everything. Most of the teams you cite played in big buildings and was the biggest drain on the bottom line. One thought is that if you play in a small building and people can't buy a ticket, the value of those tickets goes up.
There is one idea that I would include in a pro league. Every pro team must be part of an amateur league. It should be an extension of that league like an elite men's travel team. Having a strong amateur league as a base does two things. First, each team automatically has a built in developmental league where you can develop your own stars of the future, homegrown stars that the fans will buy tickets to come and cheer for. Second, having a strong amateur league becomes a market to sell pro tickets and merchandise to. The pro team acts as a catalyst for the amateur league. Kids will join if they feel that someday they will have an opportunity to play for the pro team. At the very least there's an association for a kid who may never play pro but at least gets to play in the organization. You can do things like having the pro players run camps and clinics (another way for player to make money in lieu of a salary).
Lastly, a pro league has to support the individual teams. There needs to be strong lines of communication between the league office and the teams in the areas of marketing , advertising, merchandising, scouting and game operation. This will help the league as a whole grow faster and stronger.
There are two models that I would base a pro roller hockey league on: indoor lacrosse and arena football and whoever is interested should look into the history of these leagues. The U.S. version of professional indoor lacrosse started out as a regional league, mainly the Northeast (Buffalo was the league headquarters for a number of year for the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL), now known as the National Lacrosse League (NLL)). For years they only had about 8 teams. Some would come and others would go. After years of market building (the league started in 1994 I think) they have grown to about 12 teams and play in cities from Vancouver to NYC. Many of these teams play in NHL buildings because they are own in part by the respective NHL teams.
Everybody knows about arena football. Personally I think it is one of the most boring sports around (it's not like NFL football) but they have done wonders with smoke and mirrors. If they didn't fool the NFL into buying into the league (thank god for Kurt Warner) the league would probably fold. Most teams lose $1 million or more per year even today, and draw between 3,000 and 7,500 (actual people, not tickets dstributed). The history of Arena Football looks remarkably like the history of pro roller hockey. But somehow they managed to make it work. It took them about 14 years before they got a TV contract. Maybe arena football people have more integrity or maybe they just didn't stab each other in the back. But I know they started small and through controlled growth and patience, they are on the verge of striking it rich.
Maybe someone can start a pro roller hockey league and do the same thing.
Vice President of Operations
Buffalo Wings Roller Hockey
08-21-2001, 09:00 PM
Are you crazy? I have seen NARCh and Marple definitely could put a competitive team in. Just because C.J. played for them, doesn't mean he did everything. You can't say that Grezcyk and those two guys from the Scorpions could play and not a couple of guys from Marple. Grezcyk couldn't even make the starting lineup for Marple. As for the Scorpions, Marple beat them 11-2 during the season and that was without C.J., so they obviously are more talented. I put a couple of guys on that team way ahead of those two you mention on the Scorpions. GM, do you have something against Marple? I was a fan of the MLRH games last year and saw some talent in the league. Marple definitely has a couple of guys that could do some damage.
08-21-2001, 09:07 PM
Ok other than Ed Smith ,MIke Jacobs and Tom Ely Marple isn't anything. Those three and C.J could definatly do some damage in Narch but the rest of the team is a bunch of nobodys.The game against Colorado C.J ,Jacobs and Smith did everthing they played like 40 minutes out of 48 they have no depth.
08-21-2001, 11:11 PM
I said they could fill out rosters..that's a difference...c'mon read what I bother to write before you type..ok...
I didn't say there wasn't talent..I spoke of who I knew..
Marple hasn't played NARCh, they played Breakout..and regardless..I don't think they'd win platinum..that's what I said..Scorpions made the playoffs in '00 and they were a far way from winning..
Marple and NJ split during the season right..
08-22-2001, 06:23 AM
..like those asian guy and the bald dude on Scorpions..Gresczyk is ok..but he's a weird dude..
and perhaps you meant Dom Digorgio (don't think you meant Rob Harmer-you would have said BIG guy instead of bald guy)
And the comment about Jason Gresczyk gave me a laugh.
Where the heck are you Ron Tracey and Jay Mazer???
Opinionated you are (re: The GM) but nail somethings (at times). What's your take on 'NARHL'?
-Rebecca (in lurk mode) who knows how these New York and Long Island players are to deal with
08-22-2001, 09:18 AM
I did read what you wrote and you imply that those other players are better than everyone on Marple except for C.J.. I don't by any means think they would win NARCh, but I think they can field a competitive team in Platinum. To think they couldn't do that is crazy. By the way, where are you getting your info about breakout? There was a team known as Marple Sports Arena in breakout, but it is not the Gladiators. I believe only a couple guys from that team play in that tourney.
They did split the series with NJ during the season. Marple's only loss of the regular season, but they came back with for game 2 in a big way.
08-22-2001, 12:00 PM
Don't really know these NARHL guys, but as the trend in roller hockey goes "Can it be any worse"...let's hope we've hit rock bottom.not worth chewing those nails of yours off worrying about it..I know how hard you worked with refs, scorekeepers,etc..so to me MLRH didn't fail at the players level, it failed at the corporate level
Dom, yeah..that's the guy, thanks!!
08-22-2001, 12:03 PM
Most of the Marple guys were part of Car Toys, yes? IF so..they have tried to win Breakout the past couple years..
Take CJ out of the equation and they don't have enough depth to make a mark in platinum..they'd lose 5-2..with one line scoring 2 and the other giving up 4....
The funniest was the Crushers 2 years ago in Atlanta thinking they would win it all..I don't know if they won a game, kind of like their MLRH season that year..
08-22-2001, 01:07 PM
Actually I think you are the crazy on...being on the marple and mlrh bandwagon. Hmmmm, lets see......Crush beat Marple in the finals at their rink on short notice, and crush's record in narch pro as team gear or pro joy...????? well they never have won a game, and just now only tied their first one in the last narch. in light of that, how do you think anyone from mlrh could be comp. the quality of players are not there, no hybrids, strictly all life inliners, who dont know what to do when they get a little contact playing against p/t ice players.
08-22-2001, 01:28 PM
The GM wrote: ..."not worth chewing those nails of yours off worrying about it..I know how hard you worked with refs, scorekeepers,etc..so to me MLRH didn't fail at the players level, it failed at the corporate level..."
aaaaw, thanks for the kind words. And for the record, my claws are now at half length, just couldn't paint the house like that, nevermind play hockey (which I can't do very well anyway).
08-22-2001, 02:00 PM
Will Marple be the headquarters of NARHL?
Marple sounds like some ficticious town thought up by a Hollywood script writer to sound deliberately super minor league.
RHI come back from the dead-you are so needed and we just didn't know how good you really were.
Who reffed those MLRH games anyway?
08-22-2001, 03:32 PM
If there was one league that given some time that could succeed is the RHI.
08-22-2001, 08:34 PM
Where are you Jamie? Feel free to chime in at any time here. Marple is not running the NARHL. It is the Coach who has left the Marple team to persue getting the League together, with some associates of his. The Marple team (and rink) in itself, is not running the League, although they will hopefully support it.
The refs were not 'centrally organized or paid' and it was left to the Home Team to provide/choose/pay the Officials for that nights game. So in some cases, they had 'house refs' Officiating. Some of the known Officials of 'pro caliber' who reffed in the MLRH (in the east) were, Taggart, Rabatin, Hauseman, Kulikowski, Kallas, Falker, D'Angelo, Siemasko and more. (please no flaming)
Taggart and Rabatin officiated the Eastern Conference, and also the Final Championship game and were sponsored by Bauer-Nike.
08-23-2001, 09:23 PM
Well, I think its about time for me to get back into the swing of things here on IHC, and what better way to do so then get in on this great discussion!
My thoughts are as follows. As much as I'd hate to say it, if we want a strong Pro league we will have to start it in Cali, well the west coast. I mean, I'd love to see Pro Roller hockey out here in Toronto, Buffalo, Detroit. The fact remains though, that there is the fan base on the West Coast to do it, and there isn't the fan base to do it here. I think that once the league has got a solid foundation built it could start expanding eastward, and eventually reach this part of the countries.
Another idea that has been in my head is something that would have a Pro League out in the east, and another in the West. I think this could also work, I know the Western one would be bigger off the bat, but get maybe 8 teams in a league out in the east(Toronto, Buffalo, NY, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Chicago, etc) then expand after we get the fan base out here. I think this could eventually turn into a league that spans across Canada, and The US, with the East League and the West league uniting as one and instead of 2 different governing bodies have one, and the the 2 leagues turn into the different conferences.
That brings me to another point. If we want it to get to such a point we need the money to do it. WIthout money none of this will work. To unite the leagues it would take the teams a lot of money, travel expenses, player salaries, team personel, and executives. This all amounts to great costs. So first off we must start small, create the market, create the fan base, and then when we have developed this we will have the money to expand to a nation wide league.
Money will also attract the better players. I like the idea of the NARHL having a cash prize at the end to the winning team, I think that this will give the players something to work towards. This is a good start, and once the fan base is there you can offord to pay the players, and then unite the leagues.
Well, thats just what I think about the whole thing!
Phil Christie, Ontario Titans #24
08-24-2001, 01:57 AM
I think what alot of people are forgetting is that besides big pocketbooks, you also need the right hockey people behind a pro league and its individual teams. The St. Louis Vipers were one of the most successful franchises in the history of the RHI due to the fact that the had recognizable people running the team. For example, Bernie Federko was one of the owners. For anyone who doesn't know Federko was a 1000 point scorer in the NHL, and should be in the Hall (but that is a whole other topic). Federko had done wonders for hockey in St. Louis before the Vipers even started. Also involved was Perry Turnbull, who also played for the Blues and was the 2nd overall pick the year he was drafted. Turnbull is also very active in the St. Louis Inline hockey scene. Ron Bielstein was the assistant coach. When you think of St. Louis inline hockey you think Mr. Beilstein, he is the head of the Tour Bandit organization and has won numerous national titles. So basically what I am saying is try to get people involved whose names are synonomous with hockey in that particular city. If you don't the team/league is destined for failure.
08-24-2001, 02:27 PM
Regarding the mention of Arena Football:
Just to point out, I've seen a few Arena Football games and they are entertaining. They have changed their rules to be a bit different than the NFL and I think it makes it interesting. Allowing the receivers to be in forward motion behind the line of scrimmage, running back missed field goals, shorter field, and I'm sure there are more..I've only seen it a little. The didn't insist on having the same rules as the NFL because they couldn't offer the same level of football. The players are not as good as the NFL guys. They adapted the game to make it fast and exciting.
Hmm....sounds like a debate on this board that's been going on for years.......
12-03-2003, 05:55 PM
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