Midwestern CWHL expansion?

Midwestern CWHL Expansion?

Ahhhh, summer hockey rumors! I love them. 🙂 The CWHL has been making noises about expanding to add another American team, and a recent espnW article confirmed that the CWHL Board of Directors will be considering bids this summer from Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, and New York City. Commissioner Brenda Andress said that she would prefer a Midwestern location, so that Calgary isn’t the only western city in the league, but travel costs for teams will be a huge factor there. In the 2011-2012 season, the former Team Alberta played fewer games than the rest of the league due to travel costs, which is obviously not ideal.

The 2010 Minnesota Whitecaps won the Clarkson Cup, the first American team to do so.
The 2010 Minnesota Whitecaps won the Clarkson Cup, the first American team to do so.

However, the really interesting news to me was that the CWHL made a profit over the last two years. Last season it made $1.2 million in revenue, largely from Canadian corporate sponsorship, and Commissioner Andress is hoping to attract more American sponsorship. Her goal is to raise enough money over the next 18 months to cover all league expenses (including expensive travel costs) and to pay players. That last would be huge. The number cited in the espnW article was $15,000 per season. That’s roughly $3000 a month, which isn’t a huge amount for professional athletes, even women — but that’s a giant step in the right direction.

However, doing both– expansion and paying players — may not be possible up front, and I’m not sure which way the league would go. Some people in the league, like Digit Murphy, are on record as wanting to make sure they can pay players before any expansion. But to me, if you want to start having more American sponsorship, you’re going to need more American teams. I will be watching for developments here with great interest.