Sharks could move from San Jose without reworked cable deal, says notoriously unreliable columnist

San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy has speculated wildly before, so take this with a huge grain of salt, but: Purdy is now reporting that the owners of the San Jose Sharks are so unhappy with the cable TV deal that their former CEO signed in 2009 that they’ve brought in NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to threaten that they’ll move out of San Jose if they don’t get more TV money:

Bettman has contacted high-level honchos at Comcast corporate offices in Philadelphia to see if the Sharks’ local television deal can be reworked. Comcast is the parent company of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, which broadcasts Shark games. So far, the Bettman talks have not been fruitful…

In the most extreme version of the narrative, there is no creative solution and the Sharks continue to drain money. Plattner then tires of the red ink and decides to move the team outside the Bay Area market — where he could negotiate a better TV deal and abandon his current one here.

Sounds extreme. And almost unthinkable. That is likely why Bettman became involved. Comcast is also the parent company of NBC, which holds the NHL national broadcast rights. The decision to award an outdoor game to the Bay Area next season, which will soon be announced at either AT&T Park (most likely) or Levis Stadium (still possible), could be a bone thrown out to Comcast in hopes of currying favor.

Purdy then drops that line of thinking and talks about how the Sharks may want a new arena “sooner rather than later,” because their current one in 21 years old and maybe Santa Clara could build a hockey rink to go with their new San Francisco 49ers stadium and … it’s either team-prompted trial balloons or a desperate attempt to fill column inches and get hits on a slow news day. You make the call.


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19 comments on “Sharks could move from San Jose without reworked cable deal, says notoriously unreliable columnist

  1. why not move to the new san francisco arena and share with Golden State? or sell the team to the warriors group.

  2. @runner I can’t find any confirmation yet, but it appears the new Warriors arena will be primarily for basketball, like the Key Arena in Seattle or the Brooklyn Nets arena. It would have terrible sight lines for hockey.

  3. A move to SF leaves behind much of a huge season ticket and corporate base. Maybe they’d follow, maybe not.

  4. Please, no. Shark Tank and Maple Leaf Centre are the two best arenas in hockey. I can see why they’d want an arena because there is no separate concourse for the suites, but as a Kings fan this would stink.

  5. Communities in the US really need to unite against this garbage. Their answer should always be no to any pro sports team that threatens to move because they want tax dollars.

  6. If they want huge rights fee’s, for a game with low ratings, send Berman home and get Selig.

  7. Seems like a piece written for a slow news day.

    Of course, he fails to mention Comcast also owns a chunk Comcast Spectacor, an arena management company and owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, so, well, what kind of shady deal will Bettman try to work out here? Spectacor being hired to manage San Jose Arena? Winter classics every year in Philly?

  8. I wouldn’t read much into this. Purdy is just filling column space. The Sharks have a huge corporate base where they are, a huge season ticket base (arguably the best of any warm weather NHL market). Their arena just got a glut of new upgrades at city expense less than 5 years ago. They’re not going anywhere. They’re just pissed they don’t have one of the massive new Lakers/Dodgers/Angels style TV deals and don’t want to wait until their current one expires. But they’re not abandoning what has always proven to be a lurcative situation for them simply over a couple of years of TV money.

  9. It’s not too late for the Warriors to make their arena hockey ready but that still wouldn’t change the amount of money on their tv contract since SF and SJ are part of the same market.

  10. Eighth month in a row without Comcast or any other pay tv. My balance sheet is looking sweet. I’m not moving. Love me some pirated Sharks and MLB streams.

  11. It’s only (the customers/over-tax-ed-payers) money, so who cares? If it can happen in downtrodden Detroit, why not in San Who-say?
    They’ll pony up like the good sheep they are, right?
    Bad-Bettman and the Shark-ies are counting on that. Bahh-bahh-bahh.
    BTW Freddie, keep it under your hat – less said the better.

  12. Purdy is nothing but a San Jose hometown biased hack?! Purdy puked out the same bs when the 49ers wanted to relocate to Santa Clara, “if the 49er don’t get a stadium they are going to move to L.A.,” which was pure bs!

  13. Paul, unlikely. Any new arena in San Jose would require a public vote. The city can’t bypass the ballot box by city law like Detroit did.

  14. Dan,San Jose can just follow the Sacramento model. Public fleecings for sports arena’s are all the rage these days. With dirt bag politicians and a compliant media it’s definitely possible.

  15. I’ve had some contact with the Warriors’ arena project team and my understanding is that installing an ice surface is under consideration. I would expect to hear something on the interior design at the next Snohetta presser, perhaps this fall. It doesn’t necessarily mean the Sharks would be lured to SF but it does open the possibility to some NHL franchise locating here.

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