The Atlanta Thrashers are in financial trouble. They need a local investor or a local buyer to keep the team in town long-term, according to one of their current owners, Michael Gearon of Atlanta Spirit Group.
The fans say that the problems don't fall on their shoulders. There is a fanbase in Atlanta, they say, and if ownership didn't mismanage everything, the fans would be there. When the Thrashers made the playoffs, the fans were there. When the team was new, the fans were there. When the team is a bumbling mess and ownership is threatening relocation, the fans aren't there.
Hard to disagree with that assessment (unless you live in, say, Winnipeg).
So what will save the Thrashers? If the current ownership group doesn't get it and they aren't willing to take on losses much longer, it seems clear that a brand-new owner is the best-case scenario. A local owner that cares.
Could that man be Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons? Via SB Nation Atlanta's Jason Kirk:
The reasons why are obvious. Besides just producing a winning team that stays out of trouble, takes community work very seriously, and is doing everything it can to educate Atlanta sports fans on punctuality, Blank also provides a respectable representative of the team and city. He's a person with a name and a face -- that alone sets him apart from Atlanta's other sports ownership.
The highest compliment any sports fan can raise about team ownership: this guy gives a s***.
There's even a new website, ArthurBlankBuyTheThrashers.com, which pleads with the Falcons owner to save the city's hockey franchise. It's a noble cause and the author of the site, Chris Ciovacco, lays down a convincing case for the Thrashers to stay in town.
Personally, as a fan who's lost a hockey team before, I can sympathize with Ciovacco and the rest of the Thrashers fans that are going through this right now. No matter what level of what sport, it's not easy losing something you've invested so much of your time and energy (and money) in. It goes a lot like this, via Ciovacco:
My father and I, along with my brother, spent countless hours talking about, and attending Atlanta Flames games when I was a kid. I was twelve years old when the Flames packed their bags for Calgary. I, like countless little hockey fans in Atlanta, was heartbroken when the ‘Flame' was put out in 1980. I cried when the Flames left. The heralded coming of the "Ice Age" ended abruptly and was a blow to our civic pride.
There is a real possibility that within a few short months, our civic pride will be hurt again and thousands of young hockey fans will cry when they find out there will be no Thrashers games to attend anymore with their fathers and mothers. Atlantans have an opportunity to save hockey in our hometown. Our beloved Atlanta Thrashers, of the National Hockey League, are in desperate need of a hero.
They're hoping Blank becomes that hero. Even if he does purchase the team, which he's given no indication that he will, Kirk at SB Nation Atlanta says it's doubtful that he pays nearly as much attention to the team as he does with the Falcons.
That's a better option than losing the team, though, right Atlanta?