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Tampa Bay Lightning will get cut of NHL revenue sharing this season

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Owner Len Barrie said a revenue sharing check the Lightning will get this year from the league will not make it profitable.

"We'll still be in the red for the year," he said between periods of Saturday's loss to the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

But the bottom line won't be as egregious. Barrie declined to give specifics, but Tampa Bay apparently can expect perhaps up to $14 million.

"It helps every team," Barrie said of revenue sharing. "It helps every team that's in a market that's trying to grow and make the league stronger, and we're in one of those markets."

Actually, it means the Lightning is in the bottom half of the league in hockey-related revenue, and its cash payroll is below the midpoint of $48.7-million; that is, halfway between the salary cap of $56.7-million and salary floor of $40.7-million.

A complicated formula in the collective bargaining agreement determines distribution of money that comes from the top 10 revenue clubs, media revenue, playoff gate receipts and a portion of player salaries in escrow.

Eligible clubs cannot be in a media market of 2.5 million television households. To get a full share, teams must sell an average 14,000 tickets (80 percent of league capacity) and have revenue growth exceeding the league average.

Failure to hit those marks knocks down what is received.

Whatever is gained will be a relief for injury-ravaged Tampa Bay, which lost about 2,300 of announced average attendance, could finish last in the league for the second straight season and has cut 2009-10 season-ticket prices on about 90 percent of seats in the St. Pete Times Forum.

The team even tried at the trade deadline to get further below the salary midpoint by sending to the Maple Leafs goaltender Olie Kolzig and defenseman Jamie Heward.

At the time, general manager Brian Lawton called it "cap management," but it also was a reality check.

"Is it disappointing? Yeah," Barrie said. "But we're going to continue to try to grow the business. I love the pieces we have in place this year compared to last year that we have to build around, and that's the positive."

Commissioner Gary Bettman also reiterated, "The financial underpinnings of this franchise are strong."

A big part of that is because the largest financing of OK Hockey's $200 million purchase of the team last summer was done by previous owner Palace Sports & Entertainment, which, if necessary, could reclaim ownership if OK Hockey falters.

As of now, though, Bettman said, "There's nothing for people to worry about. … There's no issue until there's an issue, and there's no issue."

But there is revenue sharing.

"You bought a business at the bottom," Barrie said. "It needs to work its way up."

CO-OWNERS: Barrie denied reports in Canada that he and Oren Koules are not speaking.

"We talk every day," he said. "We probably talk two times a day.

"It's been challenging for both of us because it's been a hard year; it's been a hard year for the world. How you face adversity and come through it is what you're made of."

Tampa Bay Lightning will get cut of NHL revenue sharing this season 04/05/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 5, 2009 8:27pm]

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