by Joe Tasca on 11/07/12 at 07:00 PM ET
Earlier this week, the owner of the OHL's Brampton Battalion announced the team will be relocating to North Bay next season. Columnist Dave Pollard wonders how the club survived so long in the Flower City:
With so few bums in the seats almost from the outset of the franchise, I wouldn't have been at all surprised if the Battalion had moved years ago. The team has a hard-core group of supporters, sure, but the numbers just aren't great enough to make it work in Brampton. Been that way for 15 years, probably would have been for another 15, even if the top marketers in the world were hired.
Many Americans seem to think the Greater Toronto Area has the most rabid hockey fans in English Canada, but the fact of the matter is the western part of the region has never supported junior teams. Brampton and Mississauga have finished dead last in OHL attendance for years. The AHL's Toronto Marlies also struggle to attract fans, as the club currently sits ninth in league attendance, despite the lack of NHL hockey.
The Greater Toronto Area is an NHL stronghold, plain and simple. The Maple Leafs have the highest ticket prices in the league and offer one of the worst on-ice products on a regular basis, but fans are still banging the door down at the Air Canada Centre. Ten more lockouts over the next ten years won't do anything to effect the passion of the Leafs fan base.
The problem is, because everyone in the region is so heavily invested in the Leafs, nothing else matters. That's why the OHL, which has incredible support in remote northern communities like Owen Sound, Sudbury, and Sault Ste. Marie, has always been a tough sell in Greater Toronto. It's a shame because, as Pollard notes, the area has its share of junior hockey fans - just not enough to support a team.
With that said, best of luck to North Bay. It's been ten years since the Centennials left, and it's great to see a beautiful city with a rich history of junior hockey get a second chance.
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About Tasca's Take
Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.
Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.