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Michigan Warriors packed up? - Junior Hockey News

Published: Sunday, 4 Mar 2012
By: Randy Russon

Are they packing it in?

Or, are they packed up for move elsewhere?

Or, are they staying put and simply angling for a better agreement with Perani Arena?

The saga surrounding the Michigan Warriors of the North American Hockey League continues and sources are varying regarding the future of the Flint-based franchise.

What is known for sure is that the NAHL has granted the Warriors dormancy until they get their affairs in order. What is also known is that during their two seasons in Flint to date, the Warriors have not been a box office draw at Perani Arena, averaging between 400-500 fans per game at a facility that seats over 4,000.

As I said, sources are offering differing views as to what, where and when with regards to the Warriors.

Multiple sources connected to the Soo Eagles -- who will leave the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League after this season in favour of joining the NAHL for the 2012-13 campaign -- have told me that Warriors coach-general manager Moe Mantha has told them his team will be returning to Flint and Perani.

Other sources, however, say the Warriors will leave Flint for any one of a number of Michigan locations, be it Trenton, Troy, Gaylord or Lansing.

Then there's Juniorhockey.com lede columnist Stephen Heisler who tells me that "the beauty of being called the Michigan Warriors is they can move anywhere in the state and not have to change their name."

More than one outlet is saying the Warriors have already packed up their belongings at Perani Arena, preparatory to departure. Others insist it's a bargaining ploy on the part of Mantha and Warriors primary owner Pat McEachern to get a better deal from Firland Management and its president Jim Cain, owners and operators of Perani Arena.

Meanwhile, Adam C. Biggers of the Yahoo! Network  is reporting that McEachern  has no  plans to "dump" the team and that his intentions are to keep the Warriors in Flint for the long haul.

Are the Warriors packing it in, packing up or staying put?

That's a question that, as of today, has multiple choice answers.


posted Mar. 4th, 2012 - 3:09pm
Jack Dodd says:
Hi Randy: From what I was told today the Warriors will be staying in Flint and at Perani.

posted Mar. 4th, 2012 - 3:15pm
Randy Russon says:
I have just been told that there could be an announcement from the Michigan Warriors and Perani Arena as early as this week.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 7:08am
Steven Marks says:
The arena previously drew 1500-2000 fans a game for the IHL Generals. The IHL overall was just absolutely horrible hockey. The problem with NAHL hockey is that most teams are underfunded and don't have the ability to promote themselves adequately to the community. What a shame.

I wouldn't be surprised if instantaneously upon their being a vacancy, the USHL steps in and the place becomes a cash cow.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 7:10am
Steven Marks says:
By the way Perani's is a great 4000 seat Junior barn.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 7:22am
Stephen Heisler says:
Great barn, depressed city. Maybe minor league basketball is the only thing that is going to work in there.

Go Flint Tropics.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 8:01am
Mike Smithe says:
America's Most Dangerous Cities, 2011....

That's the headlines on Yahoo about Flint which is rank #4. Link Below.


Do we really want to send our children to a billet family in an area that is so unsafe. The warriors need to move to a city that is hockey savvy. Hockey has a certain demographic which follows the sport and Flint in not a city that has enough of those individuals.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 8:32am
Jack Dodd says:
Perhaps a sollution to "underfunding" is for Perani Arena to partner with the Warriors to better promote this team. I agree that Perani is a great Arena with so much history as the former IMA Sports Arena. Like Detroit Flint's economy is rebounding and with a great Arena to play in the Warriors have that covered they just need to promote better. I don't know what there advertising budget is maybe this is where Jim Cain and Perani come into play.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 8:55am
Randy Russon says:
As an example of promoting a team through the media, I know that the Soo Eagles advertising budget with the local radio stations for the 2011-12 season is more than $10,000 -- and it shows at the gate where attendance is up 40 per cent from two years ago.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 10:30am
Jack Dodd says:
I wonder if the Warriors spend $ 10 Grand plus on radio advertizing???

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 11:27am
Mike Smithe says:
Is anyone out there a business major... First rule of business, Location, Location, Location. You can have a great arena but if its not in the right location it an automatic recipe for failure.

Hockey needs to move out of Flint it is not a successful hockey market. Is this to hard of concept to grasp. In the NAHL you need to generate $300k to 400k a year to break even.

Lets go back to the basics people....follow the first rule Location, Location, Location. Unless you want to use the teams financial failure as a tax right off for the Billionaires out there who own NAHL franchises which is none.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 11:50am
Randy Russon says:
I'm not sure about your "location, location, location" theory. Before the Michigan Soo Eagles became a box-office success in the NOJHL, two prior franchises failed miserably in the same town, in the same league -- the Northern Michigan Black Bears and the Soo Indians. Both were successful on the ice -- the Black Bears went to the league finals in '05-06 and the Indians won the league championship in '06-07 -- yet both were box-office disasters. In come the Eagles and thanks in part to aggressive marketing, they are a box office success. This I know as a sportswriter; I didn't need my business degree.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 12:32pm
Mike Smithe says:

being successful on the ice doesn't mean you will have a financially successful hockey franchise. We also need to look at Tier 3 "pay to play" model vs the Tier 2 and Tier 1 models which players play for free. A Pay to play model can survive just about anywhere with 25 players flipping the bill for the franchise this is proved by the EJHL and AJHL which have less then 100 people at there games.

If you are going to be franchise who pays all the bills based on money raised from revenue such as Tryouts-advertisers-vending-and attendance then you need to make sure you are in the right location to be have long term financially stability.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 2:52pm
Randy Russon says:
Mike, I didn't say that. On the contrary, in fact. I merely pointed to how much better the Soo Eagles were doing than their NOJHL predecessors -- and that I think marketing has a lot to do with it. Also, in case you thought otherwise, the Eagles are not "pay to play."

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 3:23pm
Paul Isleib says:

All former soo teams played at the big bear. Which you know got terrible fan support. I agree that the ownership is much much more dedicated to the success of the program now then previous groups, but you also didn't mention that the soo eagles play in the pullar stadium right downtown. Which is a much better location. I'm not around the soo anymore so I can't say I know too much about how they run it but it seems a hell of a lot better than when I was in town.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 4:30pm
Randy Russon says:

You are correct. But Mike was saying "location, location, location" regardless of the rink, ergo I believe he was talking city, not arena.

Also, check out the attendance from previous Eagles ownership to current Eagles ownership, both playing at the Pullar.

Previous Eagles ownership averaged 377 fans at the Pullar. Current Eagles ownership has averaged 607 at the Pullar this season -- and that is without a playoff game.

My point was that marketing has a lot to do with it.

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 4:53pm
Randy Russon says:
Further to the Michigan Warriors saga:

mlive.com has picked up on this current juniorhockey.com column and has just posted a related article entitled:
"Sources say decision on Michigan Warriors future in Flint expected this week"

You can go to the article via:

posted Mar. 5th, 2012 - 5:52pm
Jack Dodd says:
Well it seams as though MLIVE.com is playing "follow the leader" by tracking the Warriors through JuniorHockey.com with this "saga" as Randy calls it. I have thouht all along that the Warriors will stat in Flint we shall see if Jim Cain reely wants this Team at Perani. I do feel as though Flint is a good hockey town as the Generals have proved over many many many years.

posted Mar. 6th, 2012 - 8:34am
Derek McPherson says:
My opinion is best case scenario the Warriors join forces with the Soo Eagles, who have already proven to be successful, take the overall best players available and give it a shot at Pullar. The only problem I can imagine is the NOJHL is a pay to play league as far as I know, so would they have the financial stability to support an NAHL team which will most likely need at the very least 250K? Possibly even more with the traveling costs considering the Soo isn't necessarily close to any other teams in the NAHL North Division. Maybe the Warriors could find a new location like Troy for example and the Eagles could somehow get their way in to the NAHL and continue playing out of Pullar?

posted Mar. 6th, 2012 - 9:52am
Randy Russon says:

Soo Eagles are not pay to play. Also, the Eagles are already headed to the NAHL, having bought the Traverse City North Stars.

posted Mar. 6th, 2012 - 12:34pm
Jack Dodd says:
For a team that has not created much "buzz" in 2 seasons in Flint these articles have started a "buzz" about the Warriors along with the article on MLIVE.com. I still think as though Junior Hockey can work in Flint - MCeachern just needs to promoate this a lot better than he has done so far. I was in Birch Run this morning and they were talking about the Warriors beleive it or not!

posted Mar. 6th, 2012 - 2:00pm
Stephen Heisler says:
I like Mantha, but I think his hands have been tied.

As far as creating a buzz, the NAHL has rejected two cooperative agreement proposals from us in the last two seasons.

Luckily, Mark Frankenfeld and I have become close friends and are now exchanging cards every holiday season. I am also considering a run at the new Associate Commissioner of the the NAHL job. Do you guys think I'm qualified?

posted Mar. 6th, 2012 - 3:33pm
Tony Prito says:
The problem is that not enough people in Flint knows who the Michigan Warriors are. Down the road in Saginaw the Spirit is big news as there commercials are all over the Radio. If Saginaw can support OHL Junior Hockey then Flint can support NAHL Junior Hockey imo! Like I say though - The Warriors have not got there message out to the people!

posted Mar. 6th, 2012 - 3:35pm
Tony Prito says:
Agreed that Moe Mantha is a good man a former NHL Player who knows the game.

posted Mar. 6th, 2012 - 7:40pm
Mike White says:
Not that any of us parents could tell you the inner workings on them staying,I will say this. My sons experience in Flint has been nothing short of great. The coaching staff is excellent,his billett along with all the other billetts Ive met are awesome. The organization has gone above and beyond in the treatment of the boys. I hope they continue on and the Flint community eventually starts to get jobs back. It really is the economy there,and thruout the north division. Been to all the rinks only Port Huron outdraws them. Its a good show and I hope it does catch on. Peranis is a very nice rink,but paying 4 bills for parking is ridiculous.

posted Mar. 7th, 2012 - 8:06am
Mike Smithe says:
Keeping a hockey team in a city is economics 101. You need to be able to sustain a steady cash flow. The best cities/ towns for hockey. They should have 75k to 100k in populations 60% of that should be ages under 40 yrs old. 60% should be middle to upper income. The town should have seen a 10% percent growth in population and new business for 3 consecutive years prior to a team moving there.

Then lets talk hockey, they need a arena that will hold 1000 to 2000 people. They need to have the right lease with will be at the right price. They need to be able to sell advertising in the building ie. dasher boards, in ice logos, wall banners. The arena should have some type of beers sales. You have to be in a town that understands hockey and has great youth hockey programs in the area.

Then you need to make sure you are the biggest game in town on a Friday & Saturday night. You can not have a ton of competition for young people to do other things.

When you find this mix you have a strong place to have a solid franchise as long as your travel to other teams is not to far increasing your travel budget over the 40k it will take a normal team throughout a season.

So my question is this flint

posted Mar. 7th, 2012 - 10:28am
Jack Dodd says:
Yes ... I think this can be Flint!

posted Mar. 7th, 2012 - 10:39am
Mike Smithe says:

I applaud you optimism, but if it was your money on the line would you bet 400k on a budget for the upcoming season. Being a fan you have the luxury of not losing a couple hundred thousand, unlike the investors or owners of a hockey team. If they do decide to stay in Flint I hope they do well.

posted Mar. 7th, 2012 - 11:30am
Randy Russon says:
I have been advised that we could know as early as today or by the end of the week at the outset what the future holds for the Michigan Warriors.

posted Mar. 7th, 2012 - 2:18pm
Randy Russon says:
Sources say Jim Cain of Firland Management is in Flint today for face-to-face meeting with Warriors president Pat McEachern regarding a new lease agreement at Perani Arena and Event Centre.

posted Mar. 8th, 2012 - 4:41pm
Jack Dodd says:
Great work following this story Randy and keeping us fans informed. Thanks so much.

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* Article disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Randy Russon, and not necessarily the views of JuniorHockey.com. JuniorHockey.com does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.

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