With the news of the Battle Creek Rumble Bees’ demise coming down following the FPHL’s recent dispersal draft, and the Bloomington, Illinois expansion team reportedly on hiatus until 2021 due to challenges from the COVID-19 outbreak, the Federal Prospects Hockey League is apparently doing all it can to to find a 10th team for a potential 2020-21 season.
Multiple sources have confirmed to Bus League Hockey that the league is nearing the addition of a 10th team to take the ice for the 2020-21 season, with the hold-up at the moment being a location to put the team. Those sources say that the league has been eyeing cities in a trio of states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, though at this time it’s unclear what cities within those states the league is targeting. That becomes especially difficult to try and figure out when you consider the type of rinks that Battle Creek (and Delaware) played out of last season, literally any town with a rink and 500+ bleachers could be on the table. Something tells us it won’t be in a bigger, newer rink like Bloomington would have been.
The locations being considered are apparently an effort to try and help teams that were hurt by Bloomington backing out from the coming season, or to try and make life a little easier on the two southern teams. A team in Ohio would certainly help teams like Port Huron, Mentor, and Danville, while also not hurting or being too bad for the other Eastern teams; while a potential team in Pennsylvania would be fairly centrally located, making it somewhat easy for the other nine teams to get to; and Virginia would sort of act as a middle ground on northern trips for Carolina and Columbus, as well as a nearby rival for Delaware, and would help cut down the number or trips to places like Elmira, Watertown, Danville or Port Huron.
At this time it is unclear who is attempting to put this team together, if it’s a new ownership group, or a team like the Rumble Bees that is paid for by current owners. According to our sources, should the team take the ice, the plan is for them to play a full and even 56 game schedule, with 28 games at home and on the road, but as we saw with how things went in Battle Creek last season (and even in Mentor), that could very likely change.
As for how things are stacking up for this potential 10th team compared to Battle Creek last year: the Bees weren’t announced until July 23, so if this team happens, they should have no worse than the same amount of time as the Bees had, and with the rumored team likely to be the only expansion team added to the FPHL this off-season, they might get the benefit of an expansion draft, and a few actual FPHL players on the roster to start the season, something the Bees never had.
So why, after a season in which Battle Creek made national headlines for how bad they were, both on and off the ice, would the FPHL want to do this again?
The biggest reason is the schedule and home dates for the other nine teams. A league with just nine teams creates a bunch of problems for the returning teams, and leaves the league with two options to fill out the schedule, neither of which are good. The first option with nine is to stick to the usual Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule, but you would have fewer games for every team, since once ever 5 weeks, your team would have to sit out a weekend due to no opponent. Or, you play the same 56 games like last season was scheduled for, but you’re forced to fit games in on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, which is terrible because if you’re lucky you might get half the crowd of a Friday or Saturday game.
So from that perspective, and for the financial sake of the other nine teams in the league, it makes total sense wanting to add that 10th team.
But that’s where the reasons to do it end.
Like we mentioned, just look at what happened to Battle Creek last year, and you’re potentially wanting to do that again? The team went 1-45-2, the worst record in FPHL history, and probably the worst season in pro hockey history. They averaged around 350 fans per game, and according to those close to the team, lost in the neighborhood of $130k dollars. And the league wants to do it all over again.
A few other questions about this potential team: Why would anyone want to coach it, or play for it, or sponsor it, or go watch it? And why would any potential owners or the league want this team, when it is certain to lose money, and likely lots of it?
The Bees were fortunate enough to have Adam Stio stick it out through the entire season in Battle Creek, so where is this rumored team going to find a coach that is willing to tough it out through what is sure to be a miserable season? And the same goes for players, just ask Battle Creek how hard a time they had not only convincing players to stick around, but just to even come there. Even when they made league-approved trades, often times the players simply refused to show up, screwing the Bees over twice. Even with an expansion draft, this wouldn’t be a team that’s fighting for a championship, or likely even a playoff spot.
The same goes for sponsors, why would any business want to attach itself to a team that is going to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 games, and is going to play in front of say 400 fans a night? For reference, Battle Creek reportedly did around $20k in corporate sales last season. That’s pretty much nothing, and likely a fair barometer for what this rumored team might expect to get.
And then fans, as if having to sit through all those losses wasn’t enough, there’s still a pandemic going on in the world, and who knows if we’ll have a cure or if it’ll be safer to go to games when the season starts. Is it really worth risking your’s and other’s health going to watch a terrible hockey team? Not to mention, if Battle Creek was any indication, you might be getting in the neighborhood of 20 home games, rather than the full 28, so why would you want season tickets to this potential team?
It’s…a baffling decision that the league is reportedly set on doing this again, to say the least.
BLH will keep you updated with anymore developments we hear about this rumored 10th team.