With the third season of the NWHL underway, rumors of the league expanding are nothing new. But with the amount of growth the league has done in the last couple of years, it’s hard not to speculate when or if the league will expand. Here’s my take on it.
Why now? Well, the simple answer is to expand the fanbase. They’re currently riding on their contract with Twitter to stream games online which can and will attract more viewers and possible long-term fans. By taking advantage of that, the league can easily move into a new territory without risking too much in the short term. It would obviously be a bit of a hit to the league in terms of money, but expanding the fanbase to the new city could easily make that back and then some.
Where could they go? Personally, I think Pittsburgh would be best for a few reasons. For one, the city already has an NHL team that brings tons of fans. The Penguins are one of the biggest teams in the NHL and sports. If the NWHL could team up with the Penguins in a similar way the Riveters did with the Devils, it’ll propel the league into the sports spotlight in that city. Another reason for Pittsburgh is that the league currently uses buses for travel. Because of this, cities in the Midwest and the West Coast are out of the picture for now.
Would it be successful? This is the trickiest question of them all. The league has had a bit of trouble with a consistent fan base and the players’ salaries. An expansion could mean another round of salary cuts if a fanbase doesn’t start out strong. But the other side of that is that the league and expansion could take off. Whether or not the gamble is worth the risk is up to the league and teams.
Expanding can cost the NWHL a lot of money, but it could also bring in a lot more. By bringing it to more cities, the can easily reach out to more fans and even inspire young girls to start playing the game. Think the league should expand or keep steady at four teams? Maybe you think they should expand to a different city than my pick. Let us know by tweeting to us: @puckitupblog.