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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Another Michigan OHL team?

The Saginaw Spirit are floating the idea (story includes a video) of placing an OHL team in Southern Gennesse or Northern Oakland County. I have to admit the idea has piqued my interest, if only because of my familiarity with the region - I graduated from Lake Orion H.S. The Saginaw folks are thinking about Grand Blanc or Clarkston. I think I'd be more in favor of the latter, as there's a larger population to draw from, and there's no conflict with the Flint Generals (who may have one foot in the grave, but no matter). But heck, if you're looking at Clarkston, why not go another five miles down I-75 and drop a team into the Palace of Auburn Hills? Bill Davdison owns the Lightning, and used the IHL Vipers to average 10,000+ (largely papered) seats in his arena for seven seasons. Most indications are that about half the tickets were paid, which would still put team attendance in the top half of the league - plus own all the other revenue streams in the building.

Right now, there's at least one or two teams available. We all know about the Mississauga Ice Dogs, but now we also have the Kingston Frontenacs possibly on the table. Tuesday's council meeting in Kingston ended without resolution concerning the fate of the proposed new arena. However, another meeting is scheduled for this coming Tuesday, and the arena is still on the chopping block. No arena almost definitely means relocation.

I think, however, that despite the Spirits' support of another local team, that Peter Karmanos and the Plymouth Whalers might have something to say about it. Still, reflecting on my time in the area, I thing there's enough separation between Plymouth and Clarkston/Auburn Hills that there would be no real negative impact. In fact, it might actually help the Whalers, since the new rivalry would most certainly generate a larger-than-average attendance of visiting team fans.

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