NHL lockout looms, would impact Steelheads

NHL lockout looms, would impact Steelheads
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with reporters following talkswith the media following labor talks with the NHLPA in Toronto on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Negotiations continue between the league and the players' union over collective bargaining as both sides try to avoid a potential lockout. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)
Boise, ID (KBOI-TV) - It took 15 years for the Idaho Steelheads to get the National Hockey League back to Boise, and all that work could vanish if the NHL's owners lock out players on September 15.

The Steelheads host a week of Dallas Stars training camp beginning September 21. Part of that week includes an exhibition game against Minnesota scheduled for September 25 in Boise's CenturyLink Arena.

"Right now it looks a little bit bleak," acknowledged Idaho Sports Properties President Eric Trapp, who oversees the team. Trapp and his staff are trying to stay optimistic.

"Sometimes those negotiations turn at the last second," he said.

The current collective bargaining agreement between the NHL's owners and players expires September 15. It's been widely reported that negotiations are at a stalemate.

If a work-stoppage does occur, the Stars would make a decision on it's training camp trip to Boise no later than September 17, Trapp said. If training camp in Boise is cancelled, the approximately 4,300 fans who have already purchased tickets for the exhibition game September 25 will have two options.

The Steelheads will offer full refunds or double the amount of purchase towards buying Steelheads tickets for the upcoming season, which will not be affected by an NHL work-stoppage.

"We really hope it doesn't come to that," Trapp said.

Financially, the Grove Hotel, owned by the same company as the Steelheads and CenturyLink Arena, would take the biggest hit. It would be very difficult to fill the large block of hotel rooms set aside for the two teams and operating personnel suddenly available with only a week's notice.

The whole ordeal is frustrating, Trapp said. Getting an NHL team back to Boise was a long, hard process that isn't guaranteed to happen again.

"It's difficult with the way the NHL is in getting a schedule, and getting another team to fly up here," he said. "We were able to finally put it together. And that makes it kind of diappointing that so much work has gone into it - and we kind of get [the lockout] - but I hope that if it doesn't work out this year, that we could put something together with Dallas.

NHL owners are unhappy with revenue distribution in the current CBA, which gives 57% of revenue to the players. The two sides are said to be far apart from a compromise. The last work-stoppage in the NHL was 2004, when an owner lockout forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-2005 season.