Conversely look at the Green Bay Packers. In a city with a population a little over 100,000 and the largest by far in the immediate area, they sell out every weekend, have a huge national following and will for generations to come. Although it would be near impossible to recreate the situation of the Packers with the history and tradition, their franchise is the framework I would like to see this one built around.
Best Location so far – Wausau, WI
Wausau? Wausau?! How could they ever support an NHL in team with a population a smidge under 40,000? We believe Wausau would be a great city to host a franchise due to it’s regional following, still relative proximately to major markets and in creating the cult of following of winning one for the little guy that sconnie embraces so well.
Northwest Wisconsin has a very rich hockey tradition that I think is hungry for the highest level of competition. This area has excellent youth programs, up through high school that create champion caliber hockey every year due to that passion. The region is pretty much left out of the major sports in Wisconsin and is more apt to contain Minnesota fans as a result. Southeast has the Bucks and Brewers, Northeast the Packers, southcentral/west the badgers. By putting a team there, places like Tomahawk, Merrill, Wisconsin Rapids, Eau Claire, and Superior would all have easy access to the team. All these cities among others in the area also support a total population of well over 100,000, quite a few within an hour of Wausau. It isn’t so far out though like an Eau Claire or Superior that it wouldn’t be somewhat accessible by the major markets of Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Madison every once in awhile. Hockey is a tough sport that is certainly not for the prima donna. It is full of tradition, strict codes that imbibe honor and respect so you need a region that fits that spirit and I think they do perfectly.
Wausau would also maintain that national appearance in similar light as Green Bay has of David v Goliath, but that David will always go to the whistle, the 15th round, the bottom of the 9th type mentality. Green Bay has a very specific taste where if you are an athlete that whines about contracts, doesn’t hustle, doesn’t have respect for the game that you won’t have a place much longer in the organization. Putting in a place like Wausau over a Milwaukee would certainly help that image and mentality that we take pride in with our sports figures and teams.
To note, Wausau also has an airport for team travel.