“It might look nice and good up there in Halifax but our marketing people gave us reasons why we shouldn’t keep (the Rainmen),” said Severko Hrywnak, chairman of the board. “Halifax isn’t around the corner. You could take two steps back and look at it as a business model …nobody would have Halifax in. You’re too far away. The costs are astronomical.”
This kind of comes out of the blue and Levingston seems equally shocked by it. He indicates in the article that this is the first he’s hear about it which is worrisome. That shows a strange lack of communication on the part of the league. Andre is likley not in a good mood today.
That said I do understand where the other owners are coming from to a degree – Halifax ain’t cheap and the only way to make minor league hoops work at this level is to cluster teams. But Halifax isn’t the only team posing travel problems. Wilmington is also pretty far out of the way:
- Wilmington to Burlington VT: 15 .5 Hours
- Wilmington to Rochester NY: 13 hours
Halifax is 13.5 hours away from Burlington, Vermont. So it is not the absolute longest trip in the PBL. (or at least is not by a huge amount). In addition, it’s not the greatest cost. Propping up teams like Montreal, Augusta and the mid-west teams when they can’t make ends meet is the greatest cost to this league both in terms of finances and in terms of PR capital. Halifax pay for their own webcasts which increases brand value for the whole league. Combined with Rochester the Rainmen boost average attendance in the league to a semi-respectable level and the Halifax media account for at least 50% of the total media the league and its teams earn. I can’t imagine that teams/the league pay more for less in Halifax than they do in Augusta (another place which is not physically close to anyone but Wilmington). If it’s about slicing up the pie when it comes to national ad revenue it is awfully hard to generate revenue when you lose 50% of your “televised games,” 50% of your earned media, have a reduced average attendance, and are likely to only get six to nine solid teams in the league next year (Wilmington, Vermont, Manchester, Quebec, Rochester and possibly Battle Creek, Buffalo and a team like Nashville or Albany from another league).
So what are the solutions? Halifax should make every effort to stay in the PBL: it’s the right level of league cost wise for them and the continuity of staying in one place for more than a year is imporant. It may be too late for another D-league push, and travel may be an issue for them but Levngston at least needs to make a phone call. The CBA is going to be desperate for teams but Halifax will be even further out of their footprint if they can even get it off the ground. I still think that Moncton helps alleviate many of the travel costs if they can convince someone to put a team there and it almost seems like they need to get a regional partner no matter what league they join.