Kasim Reed, the Mayor of Atlanta, addressed a group of reporters about the impending loss of the Thrashers and cited insurmountable financial losses as the reason why investors have passed on trying to keep the franchise in Georgia. Reed made some interesting comments with regards to the Thrashers and the impact their departure will have on the city. The Mayor cited “a lot of positive things going on in the sports franchise space” that should help soften the blow of the Thrashers flying north.
Via Chris Vivlamore, Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“I think any time we lose a major sports franchise it is tough. It’s going to hurt the city, but we are going to withstand it just fine. We will get through it. We have a lot of positive things going on in the sports franchise space that I think we will be announcing pretty soon that will offset it a bit.”
Hmm, what “positive things” could he be referring to? Could the Georgia Dome’s roof have a repair job in sight that could actually make it safe? Will the city pony up tax breaks for people who actually show up to watch the Atlanta Braves? Our money is on an Atlanta based franchise in the rumoured return of SlamBall!
Reed reiterated that the reported losses associated with the Thrashers have proven to be an obstacle too big to overcome for any potentially interested parties:
“The Thrashers, as you know, are in an extraordinary position because of the amount of losses that are associated with the team. So we have not yet seen a path where we can reverse those losses fast enough. If you talk to the Atlanta Spirit ownership, they will share the same thing. It’s not a lack of the city being willing to step up and do something about it. It is a partner with deep enough pockets to be willing to sustain pretty significant losses. We have not yet had any of the individuals in our community who are prepared to take that on. But it has not been for lack of trying, believe you me.”
Vivlamore also noted several comments from Thrashers goaltender Chris Mason in his notebook. One comment in particular stands out in which Mason cited a lack of financial commitment from ownership as a key reason the team struggled in their efforts to reach the playoffs last season:
“I don’t think we were given a legitimate chance,” Mason said. “We made a couple of good moves for [Radek Dvorak] and [Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart] at the deadline. But it wasn’t enough. We were such a young team. It’s hard to make the playoffs. We believed we could win but sometimes you need someone who can score an extra goal or two or help on the power play. Our management was hampered by budget. It’s still hard to make the playoffs even if you have the money to spend. When you don’t have it, it’s even harder. You see it every year. Good teams don’t make the playoffs. A couple of more pieces and we could have been in.”
The ‘Thrashers to Winnipeg’ announcement that Stephen Brunt of The Globe and Mail reported would take place Tuesday, May 24th is not happening, that much we know. Brunt may have acted prematurely on some inaccurate information or: Gary Bettman and the NHL didn’t take too kindly to his breaking of the story.
True North Sports and Entertainment and Atlanta Spirit continue to negotiate, but nothing has been finalized yet. We’re not ready to call this song ‘Stephen Brunt was wrong all along’, but the early report has definitely had a bucket of water thrown over it with no announcement coming today.
So we shall see what the future holds for the Atlanta Thrashers, but it’s safe to say they’re good as gone in the Peach State.