Pipe dream or attainable goal?
Offering up an opinion on what could be, Craig Tonks discusses a potential pipe dream.
The year is 2017, five years from now and the Sydney Kings of the NBL have finished playing at their home, Allphones Arena on a Friday night in late April. Floorboards are being removed meticulously until the layer of ice becomes evident and the transformation begins in preparation for the the AIHL season opener between the Sydney Ice Dogs and Sydney Bears in less than 24 hours time.
A team of workers are setting up the ice rink for the scheduled game of ice hockey. The boards go up followed by the plexi-glass. The Australian Ice Hockey League is ready to go for another record season buoyed by the success of last season’s Fox Sports broadcast. All this on the back of the first Australian player to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup in the NHL.
It was a smart move by the AIHL and Basketball Australia to pool resources, share buildings similar to stadiums in other world markets. One game played over summer and the other over winter gave the stadiums a year round product. Sponsors were able to take up the sponsorship package that gave them year round sponsorship and penetration into new markets.
The innovating idea of setting up a sports channel on Fox Sports purely dedicated to traditionally U.S sports such as Ice Hockey, Basketball and Baseball was a huge risk that paid off. The channel shows all NBA and NHL games plus the National Basketball League, Australian Baseball League and of course Australian Ice Hockey League games.
It certainly helped that when mining magnate Nathan Tinkler was invited to an AIHL game he wondered why he even bothered with Rugby League as he was overheard at the time saying, “Why didn’t I know about this game sooner?”
OK, back to reality. We all know that this is nothing more than pure fantasy however, one can still wonder if it can be done and dream of ice hockey moving from a niche market sport to a professional and semi-main stream sport in this country.
It’s existing fan base knows that it has all the action and more that Rugby League or Australian Rules Football showcases, yet much more skill and finesse that is sure to keep the new fans coming back.
The foundation laid by Tyler Lovering and his team are giving the sport every opportunity to grow and one day reach this level. There are many possibilities and a thousand different ideas. Anyone new to an ice hockey game rarely leaves disappointed. They never walk away and say it was boring. We all hope they love it and stay.
Where will you let your dreams take you…
By Craig Tonks