I Never Thought I’d Say This but… Moncton is the Key

The webcasting announcement made me think about the Rainmen’s reach outside of the city limits and if people from Truro, Sydney, Charlottetown or Moncton will actually watch those games. It renewed a thought I had last year: Moncton may mean as much to the Rainmen’s long term stability as Halifax does.

Levingston and company should try to establish a relationship with some people in Moncton and arrange to have a pre-season game and kids camp there next year and advertise the webcasts. In the short term it could win a few more fans by making the team “regional” not just Halifax centric and get a few families driving to Halifax, but in the long term it could groom the market for for a PBL franchise to make an instant rival for Halifax and more importantly a travel partner. And that long term goal is the key.

A solid PBL franchise in NB completely changes the business equation for Halifax. It means two road trips a year don’t even need hotels, let alone multiple travel days, and it brings in a team who can drive up in mini-vans and not even stay the night for two nights. Moncton fits perfectly in the league’s blue print – it’s eight hours from Manchester, 10 to Burlington, but just two and a half to Halifax, and seven and a half to Quebec City. It means those other teams can actually make legitimate road trips to Halifax by playing Friday in Moncton and Sunday in Halifax or vice versa.

A factor that is almost as important is that Halifax lacks an actual rival in the PBL. Vermont and Manchester are rivals (perhaps the rivalry in minor league ball at this point) and Quebec and Montreal are obvious rivals due to location. Halifax and Moncton already have a bit of a competitive spirit, and the addition of a basketball rivalry would push it over the top. It’d be great for attendance/interest in Halifax and provide a good story line which always helps at the gate.

Last year there was an article that appeared in one of the Moncton papers about a group looking to put an ABA team in the city but I hope for the city’s sake that idea is dead. However, resurrecting the idea with a PBL would be great for Halifax both for the fans and for the Rainmen owners. It makes business sense and sense for the fans, now they just need to find a way to make it work.

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5 thoughts on “I Never Thought I’d Say This but… Moncton is the Key

  1. I agree 100% For all minor league sports, clustering franchises is really important so the road teams can get more bang for their buck. Halifax is a little bit off the beaten path compared to the other PBL teams. I would guess that most PBL teams run on a pretty tight budget and a Halifax road trip probably hurts their bottom line more than any other away date.

    I doubt anyone in Moncton would consider the ABA in 2009. They’d be crazy to give up the opportunity to play Halifax, Montreal and Quebec City.

  2. Great piece Chris.. I think your idea of getting the webcasts to places like truro and the valley could be important for rainmen fan growth. it needs to expand outside of HRM, because we know to grow the crowds we need more bodies outside the region..

  3. Since the early 1970’s and Saint Mary’s Huskey’s basketball dominance in the university level compitition & the 20+ years of hosting the Final 4… Halifax has always had a strong Basketball fan base. With the larg number of Maritimers who were exposed to ‘good’ ball while attending university its reasonable to expect there is a market for the broadcasting of the Rainman games throughout the region.

    Drawing fans to Halifax from cities like Moncton, Sydney is a real posibility if the marketing was done right and the webcasts are the first step in growing that market.

    Travel time & expenses are always one of the big issues for any team & league…. you can call it clustering or corridore markets, either way it makes good sence logisticly to have more teams within the region. But attendance is a numbers game…. Halifax has a 400,000+/- drawing population within 1 hours drive so to put 5,000 in the seats at the Metro Center is not hard [weather & game quality permiting].

    Everything is a matter of scale…..

  4. It makes the team more attractive for government funding if they can prove they can get tourists to the city even if it is just tourists from the South Shore. The team seems to have a pretty good relationship with people from the valley and Bridgewater and going to truro for the charity game for the Bathurst team probably helped there. They just need to exploit it.

    Moncton is an events town and I think the city would love to have a professional franchise there. The ownership group would probably have lower costs than Halifax’s start up costs and could learn from the mistakes that Halifax made.

    If Moncton gets a team the ownership groups first basketball move should be to hire you as GM.

  5. I remember the Moncton possibility came up last March. I agree 100% that Moncton would be a great rivalry for Halifax. My worry is that it would be more successful than the Halifax franchise because of lower costs and possibly better per capita fan turnout. Having said that, I think our best attended games would be versus Moncton, both here and in Moncton.

    If we are going to be able to make the leap into the NBADL, we need a strong group of teams within travelling distance to all join at the same time and do what we did by making a whole new division in the PBL by all teams moving at once.

    P.S. If/when we make the NBADL, expect ticket prices to soar. The average NBA ticket price is $49.47, as of October 2008, with the average Fan Cost Index being $291.93 (what it costs to take a family of four, including tickets, 2 small beers, 4 small pops, 4 hot dogs, parking, 2 game programs and 2 least-expensive ball caps). Costs that approach that level will dial down Halifax fan interest considerably.

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