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Canadian NHL teams tops in ticket sales

Jan. 2, 2012 at 1:12 PM

TORONTO, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Canada has the NHL's most lucrative franchises when it comes to ticket revenue, a league report obtained by the Toronto Star reveals.

The newspaper said the confidential report it obtained from several league sources shows the six Canadian NHL teams accounted for about 33 percent of the $1.2 billion the league took in last season. That was up from 31 percent in the 2007-2008 season, the Star said.

The only U.S. club among the top six revenue-generating teams was the New York Rangers.

"There will be a lot of people using these numbers to argue that the league would be better off with teams in Quebec City and Hamilton, Ontario, rather than Columbus, Ohio, and a number of other locations where the NHL is not setting the world on fire," Marc Ganis, president of a Chicago sports consulting firm that has advised investors in several NHL franchises, told the Star.

He said the NHL's push in the 1990s to expand into the U.S. South has been "only marginally successful."

While Canadian teams lead the way in ticket revenue, the Star said it was not clear how the teams fare when it comes to sponsorship and broadcast revenue.

The NHL report indicates some U.S.-based teams have shown significant improvement in ticket sales, with Chicago, Washington, Pittsburgh, Boston and the Rangers having the biggest increases in the past five seasons.

The top ticket-selling NHL team was Montreal, which league sources told the Star was slightly ahead of Toronto with $2 million in ticket revenue per game.

Dallas had the biggest decline with a 30 percent drop from $950,000 to $660,000 per game.

The league-owned Phoenix Coyotes averaged just $420,000 per game in 2010-11, down from $450,000 in 2007-08. Phoenix is losing more than $30 million a season and is the team considered most likely to be relocated.

The New York Islanders, at $392,000 per game, were only better than the Atlanta Thrashers, who have since moved to Winnipeg.

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