For the second time in two years, the Federal League expressed interest in the Johnstown market. In its second season, the Federal League must overcome stigmas that challenge most newer leagues.
“The Federal League is interesting,” Silva said. “The press they’ve had in the two years has been so-so. They’ve had growing pains like any new league would. With everything there’s a risk.”
The Federal League has eight teams, mostly in small Northeast arenas with limited seating capacity. The league is trying to move into larger markets or at least markets with larger arenas.
Franchises are: 1,000 Island Privateers, Alexandria Bay, N.Y., 3,200-seat arena; Akwesane Warriors, St. Regis, Quebec, 2,510-seat arena; Brooklyn Aviators, 2,000-seat arena; Cape Cod Bluefins, Hyannis, Mass, 2,250-seat arena; Danbury, Conn., Whalers, 2,212-seat arena; Danville, Ill., Dashers, 2,350-seat arena; and New Jersey Outlaws, Wayne, N.J., 1,850-seat arena.
The Delaware Federals are operated by the league after the new franchise named the Vermont Wild dropped out in December, creating scheduling problems and negative publicity for the FHL.
“I think the fit for Johnstown is minor pro where you can go in there with the budgets we have and put in a decent level of hockey,” said FHL Vice Chairman Andy Richards. “If you look at the rosters we have and look at the pedigree of some of the players currently playing, I think the perspective of a fan who’s never seen one of our games might be different than what it currently might be.”
The Federal League is independent but Richards said the league has had some success moving players up the developmental pipeline. The ECHL is a Class AA level league affiliated with AHL and NHL teams, so the talent level would be significantly higher, though the operating costs in the FHL are lower, enabling teams to have lower ticket prices.
When asked if the Federal League had made a proposal to Silva at the War Memorial, Richards said:
“Our league as a league is not going to send anything in. We have two members who were interested in securing Johnstown for their home venue. Those two members are going to be dealing directly. One sent an e-mail (Monday) and the other group is going to send one mid-week. They both want to see if there is an opportunity to get in there.
“They are both existing league members,” he continued. “One wants to relocate. The other wants a second team. Both would be worthy. Both have the financial wherewithal to run a first-class operation there.
“We told them both to go for it. Whoever comes back with the lease has the deal.”