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Saturday, June 30, 2007

What might have been...

Note: I had originally posted this Tuesday morning, then removed it at the request of the interested USHL party. The story has ended, for now at least, and so I’m updated it slightly...

Stepping out from the junior hockey side of things for a sec for some venting... Over the past few days I've been involved in a bit of tiff concerning the IHL (formerly UHL) franchise in Bloomington, IL, and the status of their lease. Specifically, I questioned the viability of the franchise to take to the ice this fall as I understand things are not as solid there as some are being led to believe. These events have been taking place on the primary web forum for the league, located at (aka, ITB). ITB has been hostile territory, to say the least, for someone like me with a preference for junior hockey to spend any time there. Now, were I to make statements regarding a building/rink lease here or anywhere else in the junior hockey universe, my comments would be generally accepted by those who read them. However, despite having been proven correct on two recent out of left field educated predictions concerning the UHL (i.e., that the Chicago Hounds would be kicked out of their arena and that Franke family (Fort Wayne owners) money was used by Muskegon owner Tony Lisman to purchase Bloomington), it seems I have yet to earn any significant respect over on ITB. My words are still treated as unsubstantiated rumors. Fine, I get that, respect takes time.

However, it seems that I have stepped on some toes. I have recently acquired a copy of Bloomington's lease, and when I posted a few passages which might be used to validate an attempt by the city to evict the IHL franchise, the ITB moderators and administrators sought to squelch my discussion. Several of my posts were removed, and I was told to never again post portions of the lease (a public document) or even to discuss it on ITB. Last night I openly discussed the banishment threat, though not mentioning the lease as the topic of banned speech, and subsequently found myself banned. Fine, I've been a moderator on forums before, I know their word is law... but I'm left asking myself - why? Why suppress the mention of a public document? If an article were to appear in the Bloomington newspaper concerning the lease, would I also be prohibited from discussing that article, while those around me were free to talk? From my perspective, it doesn't make a lot of sense, but then again I’d like to think of myself as a rational being.

It's not much of a secret that the UHL/IHL is lacking in credibility at the moment. The league is down to six teams and is struggling to survive. Many observers have been patiently waiting the past few years for the Reaper to appear, and this summer marks the closest he has come. As regular readers can imagine, any league that doesn't operate in an efficient and improving fashion is going to going to find a few words tossed their way by me. I've no idea where the squelch order came, whether from ITB itself or from team/league sources, but I will say this: In my experience teams/leagues that become engrossed with monitoring message boards typically find themselves closing shop in short order. In other words, if the buzzards are circling thousands of feet above you, don't try to take out the buzzards, try to find a way out of the desert.

But regardless, I'm also not going to allow myself to be shouted down. So, in the interest of full disclosure and allowing the reader to make up their own mind, I am making available the entire lease for the Bloomington Prairie Thunder. It's in MS Word format. Review it for yourself and come to your own conclusions. I suspect that if you examine the lease terms closely, you‘ll note as I have that there is no exclusivity clause preventing the arena from offering a lease to a junior and/or amateur hockey franchise, even simultaneously with a pro team. Is it possible that a junior team can fill the void left if the minor pro team leaves or is unable to play there for whatever reason?

While chances are I have allowed myself to get too deep into this story, especially since we’re talking about the circus-like world of minor pro hockey and there is no junior hockey presence in Bloomington at present, there's plenty of real information here to follow that has nothing to do with me. While I would like to see a junior team in Bloomington, I need to make it very clear for any doubters and/or media out there that I have no financial interest in any junior hockey franchise. I have my own career outside of hockey.

By the way, I am making available the entire lease for the Bloomington Prairie Thunder. It's in MS Word format. Having viewed leases for other minor league teams in the past, I can tell you this one is deficient in several areas (left as an exercise to the reader)...

That was the extent of the article Tuesday morning. Since then, after several meetings between the city attorney, the city council, and arena manager Mike Nelson, the City of Bloomington has decided not to force the Prairie Thunder out of U.S. Cellular Coliseum. However, the city is acutely aware of the situation regarding the Prairie Thunder and are keeping a close eye on further developments. Last week they sent a letter to Tony Lisman concerning back rent owed to the arena. I’ve also been informed the team is late on their league dues, but it should come as a shock to anyone familiar with the UHL/IHL that the league is allowing the franchise to operate and vote on league matters despite being in arrears.

Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the USHL franchise originally targeted for relocation to Bloomington lands there or in another market in the near future (obviously not for this coming season). I know two potential ownership groups – it’s nice that the league has willing investors sniffing around and kicking tires.


Comments on "What might have been..."


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:42 AM, June 26, 2007) : 

you rock dude!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:05 AM, June 26, 2007) : 

hmm, I may have to visit that board and keep up the fight...

X am Spartacus!



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:06 AM, June 26, 2007) : 

that was supposed to read "I am spartacus" but the spacing didn't stay... so much for dramatic effect...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:30 PM, June 30, 2007) : 

Since then I posted several comments about the USHL on ITB. All have been deleted.



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:44 PM, June 30, 2007) : 

I wouldnt take it personal. It sounds like they are on damage control and dont want any negative posts made. You and I know that doesnt work and they should be focusing their efforts in saving the league and not deleting posts


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:10 AM, July 01, 2007) : 

What?!? A shill message board deleting pro-USHL posts just because they reveal the UHL for the joke it is?? COME ON!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:36 AM, July 01, 2007) : 

Marc, do you realize that everyone involved in hockey thinks you are the biggest loser! It is apparent your bias to your "friends" to use the term loosely. You have zero credibilty in the industry and people laugh at your ignorant views. Keep up the good work as everyone loves to laugh at an ASSHOLE


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (4:17 AM, July 01, 2007) : 

And yet, I'm the one willing to put my opinions on the line and on the record, open for anyone to take anonymous pot shots.

I'm either on the right track with what I've been doing around here, or I have an enormous (armor-plated) ego... not that the two are mutually exclusive.


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (5:36 AM, July 01, 2007) : 

Oh, by the way... If I'm the loser you seem to think I am, why are bothering to read this blog?


Anonymous Dave Jackson said ... (8:38 AM, July 01, 2007) : 

Hey - Mr. No-name,

Don't be so chicken'-shit.

If you want to blast someone - use your name you coward.

Who is hockey thinks Marc is a loser?

Most people I speak to think he's pretty well informed, and has decently thought-out opinions.

Use your name or go away you puss.


Dave Jackson


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:58 PM, July 01, 2007) : 

That ITB site is joke...the mods there can't handle anything agianst their little domains (league forums the get to baby sit). I posted some straight forward questions and they got deleted for being "tasteless & unecessarily negative"

Don't worry Marc, those who really know, know the value you bring...



Blogger Hockey said ... (6:35 PM, July 01, 2007) : 

It almost looks like if the IHL is a "new league" then the requirement of maintaining membership in the UHL is not met and termination is an option.

However, if the city allows them to play this year under the lease then it seems the team could claim the lease is valid due to the cities actions.

I am not a traditional promoter of junior hockey, however I would think the USHL would be a better fit for this market then the IHL.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:29 PM, July 02, 2007) : 

Lets be reallistic.

USA Hockey economically feeds it's only real Jr. hockey program (USHL) an emormous amount of money to each team so they are able to stay at the no-pay-play status.

If not, allot of these teams would not be able survive on their own with out the umbrella and help of USA Hockey.

Marc, I think you have valid points and stands on comments and information. But when dealing with Pro teams, regardless of bias thoughts or statements, you cant fight city hall. Eventually any organization and program will fall if not guided in the right direction.

To be quite honest the UHL had the icing on the cake with the Danbury situation and IRS/FBI inversitgation of their owner. If any of you follow these boards or posts, you will know those events. Even Barry Melrose (former owner of the Frostbite) new it was time to pull the plug.


Blogger Patrick Kissane said ... (12:01 PM, July 04, 2007) : 

That was a nice post Marc. People do get defensive of their turf, as mentioned in another comment, and react strongly when the facts don't fit their perception. That includes demanding to know who YOU are and where the information came from.

Give me a break. Most posters on the discussion boards have a hard time spelling, putting an original thought together? That would be a real challenge.

ITB provides a nice service posting the attendance figures. Like most discussion boards, however, I've been unimpressed. So it provides a mixed blessing. Like the mailing list before it, the discussion board will be made obsolete by a new web idea. The blog will develop and evolve too, of course. But your post is a reminder of why it is threatening the dominance of mainstream media.

Nice work.


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (7:26 PM, July 04, 2007) : 

Hey Patrick, nice comments... thanks.

People can demand my sources and frequently do, but don't expect me to respond. I started a witch hunt in December posting news of the firing of the NAHL commish while the league conference call was still in progress. The entire league was scrambling for weeks to find the leak(s). Funny thing is, no one has been able to tell me just who was going out to my blog during the conference call in the first place...

Still, why is it the MSM can hide behind anonymous sources and say "sources indicate", but bloggers can't? I took the post down for a week not because it had bad information, but because anyone close to the situation could see where my connections were, and my sources were afraid I was splashing too much water out of the pool.

I will say this though. I put my name behind everything I say. That sword of reputation cuts both ways and serves as my accountability. If I go off the deep end with something, my reputation is damaged or ruined. My critics should consider that before they disregard something I've written, either here or on a forum. People obviously didn't know that when I started floating the idea on ITB that the Chicago Hounds were doomed. Fact is I had a pretty damn good source on that one, but what I didn't have was a 100% lock down indication the arena was going to pull the trigger, so I hedged it slightly when I wrote it.

I'm with you on the quality of forum posters. I've observed them since about 1990 on usenet, mail lists, and now boards. I was among them, but never felt like one of them even when I was just another fan. It's just unfortunate that most folks lack critical thinking skills. It's one reason why I've gotten away from forums in general and focused on my blog.

You mention they can't write, it's also true that they can't comprehend either. My words are very deliberate and should be treated as such. A closer inspection of the language used when I'm making statements is encouraged, because one can often get a sense of my confidence factor when I am breaking news (see Chicago or Bloomy comments on ITB). Yet, I've lost count of the times my statements are misrepresented.

Finally, it's funny you bring up Hans' Attendo Meter, because I'm the one that started it about ten years ago. I was making the basic ranking tables and comparison to last season after "x" games and posting it in flat text format to the Hockhist email list (now on Yahoo Groups, not sure if it was on eGroups or Onelist back then). I started getting busy with other things, and Hans is a programmer by trade (I was doing it manually with excel tables), so Hans took it over.


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