Today the Des Moines Register announced that the AHL franchise owned by Schlegel Sports may be up for sale and out of Des Moines. Lot's of problems with the decision and nothing is set in stone. Hockey fans and the folks at Wells Fargo Arena are watching things very closely. And, as usual there is plenty of finger pointing. "Des Moines isn't a hockey town!" and, "Glad to see they are going hockey is a bore."
But, friends, in a market of 435 households it wasn't and isn't the hockey. It was and is the lousy marketing of a great sport. We watched it from the beginning and begged...honestly begged to help the Iowa Stars and then the Iowa Chops become successful.
And, I'm convinced we could have done it. Maybe we'll still get a shot. But I doubt it...we're "too Iowan".
Over the past three years, starting with John Pettit the former president of the Iowa Stars we've had several meetings about how to better market the team. When the current management group showed up with the "new" Iowa Chops we again made a pitch to Steve Nitzel through several people in the sales and marketing arm. Nothing...no phone call, no return e-mail...zip.
And, because of our love of the sport we were willing to cut them a heck of a deal. But, they went it alone. Oh sure they had some local help on projects but nobody to guide them through the maze of being accepted. Now...that may never happen.
It's frustrating when a bunch of outsiders stroll into town and "think" they know the pulse of our state and city. It's not only stupid...it's also arrogant.
Iowa and Des Moines are "hockey towns" or could be if only the marketing would have matched the skill on the ice. If only the folks from "out there" would have listened to the folks who buy the tickets. If only their pride had not gotten in the way.
It's not over...yet...there are lots of legal and financial hurdles to get over...in the meantime. We're here, just in case.