Devils in Dire Straits? “Wanted: Investors to bail out Devils”

“The Devils hockey franchise faces a financial crisis and is looking for investors to pump in as much as $50 million so the team can pay its bills and cover projected losses.

The cash crunch, described to The Star-Ledger by three members of the YankeeNets sports company, has rekindled turmoil within an ownership group that appeared on the cusp of security when it found funding lastmonth for a new arena in downtown Newark.”It seems that the financial woes of NHL clubs extends beyond small market and Canadian franchises to perennial Stanley Cup contenders such as the Devils.

While the Devils and Lou Lamoriello have always been tight with money, the purchase of the team by YankeesNets would lead one to believe that there is a degree of financial stability to the Devils.

Guess not.

On the other hand, Flyers fans, such as myself, who travel to the swamp to see our two teams duke it out several times a year are constantly baffled by the lack of fan support the Devils really have. At any given Devils-Flyers game (and I can only assume Rangers and Islanders games at the ol’ Brendan Byrne are the same) there are at least as many fans for the opposing team present. This is not to mention all of the empty seats too!

One would think that a team that has been such a consistent winner in the past decade would command a larger following at home. I wonder if, having a new arena, the Devils will draw more?

23 Responses to Devils in Dire Straits?

  1. Avalanche114 says:

    If I had to give one explanation as to why the Devils have no fan support, I would point to there location. Yes, New Jersey is in the U.S. and its close to a metropolitan area, but they play in East Rutherford, which is basically a feild with a bunch stadiums on it in the middle of nowhere. Its too bad they don’t have the money, moving to an actual city would help them in my opinion, even downtown Newark would be better than the meadowlands. I mean look at the Rangers, they suck, and they sell out games all the time because MSG is smack in the middle of a metropolis, its not rocket science..

  2. MantaRay says:

    AV’s is perfectly on target with his assement.

    New Jersey is not even qualified as a market by marketing definition.

    Consider this the opening salvo in the upcoming CBA war, that even a team that practices fiscal responsiblity alledgedly can’t make money.

    Let the propoganda begin!!!

  3. Enchilada says:

    They play in the middle of a swamp with no fan base. I went there once to see the Flyers play and there were more Flyers fans there then Devils fans. When they won the Cup they had the parade in the parking lot of the stadium!!!

  4. NYRfan78 says:

    I agree if you move the Devils out of that hell hole (no pun attended) where they play, and put them some where else, they may draw. It must be sad for a Devils fan at home to see so many Rangers/Flyers/Fishsticks fans there or the empty seats.

  5. habsoverserver says:

    Having been to the Meadowlands many times I can say that it is not in a city, but off the highway about 10 miles south of Manhattan and about 15 miles north of Newark. I remember going to a game 15 minutes late and trying to buy tickets from scalpers, but by then, all the scalpers had left. This team ranks behind 2 baseball, 2 football, 3 basketball (incl women’s) and 2 hockey teams (3 incl Phila) in local popularity. They share an area with the NJ Nets. The Nets seem to draw a crowd when they are winning but hockey is less popular than basketball here. Plus none of the Devils have the broad appeal of the Nets’ stars. There are many passionate Devils fans and their home paper of the Bergen Record does a good job talking about them. I think they suffer from being the least known sports team in the local area and not having enough personality or an appealing identity. With some flamboyant stars and some marketing they could get going. Playing the trap in the Meadowlands isn’t going to help.

  6. MantaRay says:

    Your assement is pretty accurate, but the Nets will never outdraw the Devils.

    They don’t need flamboyant stars they need marketing. The YankeeNets have spent millions in the off season to promote Net season tickets and nothing on the Devils, because the Nets are on their Cable Network.

  7. aafiv says:

    Good point. The market is also very saturated too with the Rangers and Islanders very close by.

  8. aafiv says:

    … the only thing about moving to the “city” of Newark is that Newark is a hellhole itself. No one from the city will be watching the Devils, it will still be folks coming in from the surrounding areas – same as the Meadowlands. The only difference is that there will be a new arena there. I don’t know about anyone else but the building does not make or break it for me. I just as soon see the Flyers in the old Spectrum as in the FU Center.

  9. mikster says:

    Well, if the Devils were to move to Quebec or Winnipeg, they’d be selling out almost every night, not only because they would be “the new team in town’ but also because they are successful and they win. The Devils deserve better fans, and not that Devils fans are disloyal…but hockey in NJ is behind football, baseball, basketball and soccer. Just not enough fans.

  10. Avalanche114 says:

    I think that’s a great idea, the Devils are a good team but they need a new location, it could do wonders not only for their financial problems but it could even boost their playing status. They are already a talented club, imagine if they had fans. Take a look at some of the teams who have moved of recent. The Nordiques moving to Colorado completely revamped that team, although that could be argued that that was because of Patrick Roy or the Eric Lindros deal..although it could be argued the other way, when the Jets moved to Phoenix they struggled. So the key is to find the right place, even if its somewhere else in New Jersey..

  11. titans says:

    Having done work for the Devils in the past I can assure you that they are broke!! The year after they last won the cup their season ticket sales were down 15%!! They haven’t got a pot to piss in!

  12. MossRocks says:

    “It seems that the financial woes of NHL clubs extends beyond small market and Canadian franchises to perennial Stanley Cup contenders such as the Devils.”

    Wow, really?

    I’ve been banging on this drum for over a year now on this site. More evidence of a flawed league and we will still have to hear from capitalist crusaders on this site that everything is fine and fair. Well, the NHL is not fine and huge disparity still exists. The Devils have been pretty frugal but they are a top-10 payroll club that spends about $10 million a year more than the small markets. This is a mid-size to large market that is in trouble.

    I can’t wait to hear the spin they put on this.

  13. MossRocks says:

    Like many baseball owners, YankeesNets has been accused of fixing its books by charging low TV rights fees to itself and thereby making the Yankees’ revenue look smaller. Essentially they have been hiding revenue. Virtually every MLB team owned by a communications/media conglomerate or mogul does this. (that probably adds up to ten teams in the Majors)

    My question is… Do the Devils have large TV revenues? What is the likelihood that this ‘plea’ is slightly bogus because YankeesNets is ‘hiding’ the Devils’ TV revenue?

    I am a terrible cynic, but I find it rather unlikely that the Devils are losing big cash with only a $40million dollar payroll. They must have a pretty good TV market, if not an actual ‘physical’ market. This could be Arthur Andersen-style accounting in a little posturing for the upcoming CBA.

  14. mikster says:

    Newark would be good. More attraction and Gomez would be a big fan favorite.

  15. SabresFanB says:

    I really want to see a team in Quebec.

  16. RIPPLEMAN says:

    The Devils do have fans, unfortunately those fans are too young to drive themselves to the arena. The older generation of hockey fans grew up with 2 options, the Rangers or Islanders, maybe the Flyers too if you live in southern jersey. NJ differs from other expansion areas such as Columbus or Nashville, there were no options there before their teams came, whereas the Rangers and Isles have been around for a while, especially the Rangers, an original 6 team. Then Devils come along, some fans went along with the new team in town, others remained with their NY teams. The Devils fan base is extremely young, if they can just wait it out they will have their fans in force. The addition of a new arena in downtown Newark with it proximity to transportation and projected corporate sponsorship will certainly aide the financial recovery of this team. Same holds true with the Nets in basketball….very hard to grow up in Knicks country, but you can see the transformation taking place.

    “If you build it, they will come”!

  17. big_booty says:

    I think you bring up a very good point. Most fans pulling for the Devils don’t even remember that they used to be the Colorado Rockies, or that their sweaters were red and green.

    However, you have to wonder whether or not this generation of fans is going to put up with another prolonged work stoppage, or if they’re going to have the financial security to spend their money on tickets and merchandise.

    Can the Devils really afford to “wait it out?” They might find themselves another home in the meantime.

  18. aafiv says:

    These points are valid but, as has been stated, if you were from around here you would see how little interest there is in the team. They can’t sell tickets and they compete for TV with the Rangers and Islanders which cannot be a big source of revenue for them. When you add the fact that, generally speaking, the interest in the sport is declining (from the TV perspective) this cannot bode well for them.

  19. aafiv says:

    I would buy this argument if it weren’t for the fact that the team has been here for 21 years.

    I don’t think that there are a lot of people who live in Newark who are hockey fans and folks don’t come to see teams because of the buildings they play in.

  20. pop0331 says:

    being a huge devils fan is severely disappointing sometimes, why oh why can’t we beat the canes??? and as far as the fans in the stands goes — i just went to the devs/rangers game last week, not only was there more ranger fans there, it wasn’t even a sell out. granted holik being there would have brought more people there but wow, it really opened my eyes to how much the devils really need newark, i remember going to my first hockey game in 1985 a devs/ranger game at the arena and it was absolutely crazy, and the devils sucked back then for years absolutely horrible, (ie thanks wayne for the mickey mouse refrence!) , and every year after that me and my family had gone to at least one devs/ranger game, everyone of them was filled, packed with ranger fans, only until the nineties did i see slightly more devil fans than those damn blueshirts, but now there’s no one there, we need to be able to hop on a train get blasted and not have to worry about sitting in traffic and paying tolls and driving drunk, let us only have to worry about walking through the ghetto past some crack houses and crack whores and projects in newark, then us suburban white boys would feel more comfortable wearing our red and white jerseys chanting rangers suck! RANGERS SUCK!

  21. Enchilada says:

    Which game are they playing at?

  22. amok says:

    Very interesting responses. I’m going to be attending a Devils game while in New York this December. Will be quite a change after watching games in Vancouver over the years to then go to such a silent and empty arena.

  23. MossRocks says:

    Yeah, and Vancouver is such a great sports town that always packs the building. Please… in 2000-01 the Canucks had a lower average attendance than the Devils by over 1000/game. Vancouver has only had good attendance recently. Leave your ‘holier-than-thou’ crap at home.

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