The Minnesota Wild don’t really represent a growth market
Plain and simple; hockey is embedded in Minnesota already. There is no value to the NHL in growing the game within the state, hence why the Minnesota Wild are consistently overlooked.
In selecting Dallas to host an outdoor game, Gary Bettman and company are making it clear that they wish to market the game further and further South and that realistically they don’t look set to gain anything by hosting these games in the North.
Every year, of course, we do see one game typically hosted in Canada or at least close to the border, but they equally are games that don’t offer much more than match-day revenue.
By hosting games in non-traditional hockey markets, the NHL is hedging their bets on further growth which long-term means more bums in seats. Somewhere like Minnesota already has no issue filling seats, regardless of how the Minnesota Wild are performing.
In fact, just look at recent events where we’re seeing the NHL shipping teams off to China and Finland to play games as a sign of how majorly they want to target growth in places that typically aren’t viewed as NHL markets.
There really is very little that the Minnesota Wild can do to fix this dilemma either. Hockey is part of the state of Minnesota and will remain so, it just takes the NHL head office to realise that this fact alone makes marketing an outdoor game very easy.
Simply sell an outdoor game on hockey tradition in the state, build on the pond hockey culture and ignore the fact that the market doesn’t need growth.
It really depends how you look at it.
If you want to look at it as rewarding a community that loves the game; it’s a win every day of the week.
If you want to look at it as a place that has likely already reached peak saturation in terms of building a fan base and long-term future of the sport, you’re not looking at a smart business strategy.
Sad as it is, I don’t think an outdoor game is headed this way anytime soon. The only way the Minnesota Wild will be skating on outdoor ice is in someone else’s state.