With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Franchise Relocation: Fan Effects

Some time ago we were contacted by the Whalers Booster Club whom had been contacted by Porter Williams, a student doing research for his thesis to be entitled "What Is The Reasoning Behind A Franchise Relocating From A City And The Effects Of The Loss And Gain Of A Franchise To The Fans Of The Original And New Cities?"

Mr. Williams was focusing his thesis on fans in Hartford and the Raleigh-Durham area so naturally, we were interested in the results. The survey shows some interesting results, even if, as Mr. Williams concedes, the sample size was small, some of the findings are interesting. Since we're guessing not all of you want to read a 75 page thesis, we've picked some highlights below. If you do want to receive a pdf of the thesis email here.

"Hartford Whalers’ supporters still hav[e] very little respect for the betrayal of Peter Karmanos, and they do not show any regained love for the Hurricanes.  The fans still hold great memories to heart of what the Whalers brought to the city, and even though some have switched their loyalty to other NHL teams, the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League, or the University of Connecticut’s athletics, there will always be a place for the Whalers, as well another professional team in the city of Hartford."

"Whalers’ fans have started to become loyal to new NHL teams, as ..  47.1% respondents have switched their loyalty to another team, such as the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins.  Recently, there was a large debate in the state of Connecticut as the Rangers’ minor-league affiliate, the Connecticut Whale, took the brand of the Hartford Whalers in terms of the name and colors.  Only ... 5.7% respondents said it was a disgrace in stealing the Hartford Whalers brand, while ... 42.9% have become a fan of the Whale now, and ... 51.4% do not seem to care at all for minor-league organizations.  Some fans will never forget the Whalers, as ... 82.4% respondents believe they will support the Whalers in their hearts for the rest of their lives, while the others have been overtaken by their loyalty to other NHL teams." 

"Fans will be born and continue to create allegiances to a city and a franchise, and this literature review has proven that nothing is more hurtful to a fan than getting his or her franchise stolen away from their city." 

"Not only are the fans crushed about losing a franchise due to relocation, they are also completely spent due to their taxpayers dollars being directed towards the renovation and construction of playing facilities.  Unfortunately, a competitive market for professional sports franchises does not exist, which creates inequities that force local officials to put the taxpayers they represent at substantial risk during negotiations to acquire or retain a franchise." 

"A city loves a franchise for the amount of financial benefits it provides, such as population growth, tourist attraction, and media attention.  However, no one will love a franchise more than the loyal fans, such as the ones left in Hartford, Connecticut[.]"


  1. It would be awesome to get the Whalers back. This city needs more Russians, Swedes, and Canadians living here.

  2. This was a nice summary of that study. Unfortunately, having a sports franchise depends on how much local businesses are willing to invest and/or how much the team is able to extort from the local government. A team generally looks for the town to either build it an arena that costs hundreds of millions of dollars, or float them extremely favorable loans and bonds. We'd need a new arena, or a completely renovated Civic Center in order to get the luxury suites to attract a team. From the team's perspective, guarantees of money from the state and selling luxury suites for 10s of thousands of dollars a year matters a lot more than folks willing to buy season tickets in the bleachers.

    While Karmanos was a rat for the way he handled moving the team, the deal with the state basically fell apart over $45million. Governor Rowland was too distracted with his insane plan to lure the Patriots to Hartford and thought we could afford to lose the Whale. Sadly, we got stuck with nothing.

  3. The HCC is a dump and irrepairable to NHL standards.
    And now that the NYR will end affilliation with the AHL Whale, and more than likely no team will replace it, minor league hockey is dead in Hartford. So effing what.

    UConn joins Hockey East and major college hockey in 2 years and will play at the HCC. CHEAPER tix, exciting meaningful games. Major college hockey better than minor league product if we cannot go NHL