Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 12/21/12 at 03:20 PM ET
from Business Wire,
Fitch Ratings continues to closely monitor the ongoing negotiations between the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League's Players Association (NHLPA). Since the work stoppage began on Sept. 16, the NHL has canceled blocks of regular season games (now 625 games through Jan. 14 2013), its signature New Year's Day 'Winter Classic' and its All-star Game. It is possible that the NHLPA may decertify and legal proceedings would follow, all of which would likely prolong ongoing negotiations. The NHL's regular-season was expected to commence on Oct. 11.
Fitch has placed one private arena rating with a NHL anchor franchise on Rating Watch Negative and continues to closely monitor the operations of other arenas with a NHL anchor franchise. Fitch publicly rates L.A. Arena Funding's (Staples Center, Los Angeles) $201 million revenue backed notes 'BBB+', Stable Outlook and the Denver Arena Trust's (Pepsi Center, Denver) approximately $46.7 million revenue backed notes 'BBB-', Stable Outlook. Fitch does not rate the NHL league-wide borrowing facility secured by national television contracts and other league revenues.
The Rating Watch Negative reflects financial and business risks that distinguish it from other arenas, including heightened exposure to a single franchise with a significant share of arena generated revenues. The canceled games are expected to materially weaken the arena's financial performance....
Furthermore, in the event of a full season cancellation, Fitch has concerns related to potentially harmful long-term effects to the NHL brand and fan and support. NHL franchises have a solid dedicated arena fan base as demonstrated by solid arena attendance after the 2004-2005 season work stoppage. However, a second full season cancellation could result in a materially different response by NHL fans and corporate partners. Professional sports work stoppages risk alienating sports fans, corporate sponsorship, and advertising partners in the short-term and may lead to increased revenue volatility. The combination of weak and uncertain national and regional economic conditions and the various sport entertainment options could result in a dramatic reduction of fan and corporate support.
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