Today, Don Waddell was introduced to Centennial Authority members. The current President of Gale Force Sports & Entertainment was brought on by Hurricanes’ Owner, Peter Karmanos, Jr. This move, which came to fruition during the organizational shake-up earlier this summer, was enacted with a vision of enhanced marketing efforts, financial structure, and ticket sales. Karmanos, Jr., praised Waddell’s hockey acumen as well as his business savvy.
For many Canes fans, this move raised some questions about the team’s future in Raleigh. As many know, Waddell was the final President of the Atlanta Thrashers that played a role in their move to Winnipeg to reignite the Jets. Sure, Atlanta isn’t the best hockey city and the team was slumping over their last few years there, but it is one of the United States’ most heavily populated cities.
The same cannot be said for Raleigh. Raleigh may have been voted America’s best family city, but that’s a little different than America’s best hockey city. We always hear how Raleigh is a small market for a hockey club with limited revenue streams and we can’t disagree. Compare us to almost every other American hockey city and we fall short in these aspects. But the fan base and family atmosphere keeps us afloat. Oh yeah, and winning, I seem to have been forgetting about that concept as of late. Our population size and dwindling ticket sales, combined with the hiring of Waddell, led to some fans thinking about the possibility of the Canes becoming the next Thrashers.
Today, however, that possibility seemed to take a hit when Chip Alexander reported that the Centennial Authority would consider an expansion of the PNC Arena. This expansion of the north end of the arena could include a, “new restaurant, entrance, etc.” The Centennial Authority, which involves both leaders from NC State and the Hurricanes, will delve into this idea by comparing numerous arenas from around the league. It would also be interesting to consider linking the PNC Arena to Carter-Finley Stadium in some capacity and/or introducing more team stores. This thought process not only could lead to a revitalization of the PNC Arena and the Hurricanes organization, but it also puts our minds at ease for now. Hopefully this is a sign that the Canes will be here for years to come.
On a side note, Alexander also reported that the new LED lighting in the PNC Arena should be up and running by September 5.