It is so hard to believe that financial issues are killing hockey teams in Connecticut. Hartford and Whalers owner Peter Karmanos split over issues with politicians back in 1997. Whaler Sports and Entertainment, who marketed the Connecticut Whale, couldn't run their business in Hartford because of the expenses in the city. New Haven first had an I-AHL team in 1936 yet today they have no professional hockey after imploding the New Haven Coliseum. Now it looks like the Danbury Whalers are being taken for granted by the city of Danbury.
The team has to pay $1,400.00 a game to have four police officers and two fire marshals at every game. This is a terrible expense on the team and the city is not allowing a deal to be worked out where the team can survive. The team would like to pay $600.00 to have two police officers and one fire marshal but the city Council has turned a deaf ear to any negotiation. City's need to understand the value of professional hockey to business and entertainment.
The Whalers have brought to Danbury and impressive list of things that politicians love to see. People coming downtown to enjoy what the city has to offer. The Danbury Whalers have provided the city a great reason to come down in the last three and one half seasons.
*They have attracted more than 165,000 fans to the Downtown Danbury District.
*They have completed over 150 fundraising programs raising over $175,000 for those groups.
*They have generated a 21 million dollar economic impact on the local community.
*The players who wear the city's name have made hundreds of appearances throughout the Danbury community with our “Never Give Up” program sending a positive message to the area children.
Aren't we looking at a no-brainer here, and dare I say again?
Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Danbury need to take a good look around and stop and smell the ice shavings. How exciting is hockey in the New Haven Coliseum today? Most New Haven residents take their dollars out of the city to watch games in Bridgeport, Danbury or at Quinnipiac College. Apologies in advance for my heavy critical sarcasm but look how Hartford has thrived into an entertainment mecca since the Hartford Whalers left. Hartford has never been the same since and the AHL in Hartford only draws around 30% of what the NHL drew in attendance.
Hartford and New Haven should be considered the Jacob Marley to Danbury's Ebenezer Scrooge here. I don't offer this opinion to offend the Danbury Council but I beg them to heed this warning.
Do not follow the path that New Haven and Hartford took in letting a team leave.
Danbury's pedestrian traffic will dry up on what would have been Danbury Whaler game nights if they continue on their current path. City politicians need to visualize the long term impact of these decisions and consider the overall importance to the greater good of the city. The numbers don't lie and the money that once came in to a city can suddenly run dry. No City and the private businesses involved want to see that happen.
This impact is not felt by just the Danbury community this is for our state. The Whaler brand is Connecticut and people do come from all over the state to see the Danbury Whalers. I live East of the river and make the trip when I can and it is worth it every time. If the Danbury Whalers leave so will my money that I spend in Danbury. I will put it to you this way.
I don't get out to Danbury much, but when I do, I am there to see a Whaler's game.