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The last season of PAHL as we know it?


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Sorry for the click-bait title, but is this the last year of PAHL as we know it? I think this deserves some attention. Pittsburgh youth hockey may be about to change in a big way.

I've been in a few of the Black Bear owned rinks this spring and summer, and it's impossible not to notice the giant banners in the lobby areas advertising their various youth hockey leagues. They are advertising a PAHL alternative front and center inside of rinks with PAHL organizations. Anyone else notice these advertisements? I saw them during games for a spring league.

So right now Black Bear owns these rinks that currently house PAHL organizations...

Palmer (Delmont)
Printscape (Southpointe)
Pittsburgh Ice (New Kensington)
Covelli Center (Youngstown)

It also seems highly unlikely that Black Bear is going to stop their acquisitions. It was just a few years ago when they attempted to buy RMU Sports Island. And I know they've been poking around about other acquisitions as well.

The three Black Bear owned leagues they are advertising in these arenas are...

Tier 1 Hockey Federation (THF)
Esmark is in this Black Bear owned league. Can't imagine what the fees are but the league does have lots of good Tier 1 programs as members.

Atlantic Girls Hockey Federation (AGHF)
This is Black Bears girl league. Looks like the South Pittsburgh Rebellion girls teams are already members of this organization.

Atlantic Hockey Federation (AHF)
This is the one that worries me. This is the Tier II league that could change PAHL as we know it. Looks like right now they have 30+ organizations with 390 teams for the '22-'23 season. Right now PAHL has 28 organizations and 275 teams for this upcoming season.

AHF has a north, central, and south division right now. I think we can all see what division is missing there. Why would Black Bear be advertising this league in the four arenas listed above if they weren't planning on forcing those PAHL organizations to play in their league? They wouldn't. There is zero chance that Black Bear doesn't have the intention of maximizing every possible drop of revenue they can. They aren't going to leave any revenue streams on the table for rinks they own. They'd have to answer to their investors for that.

What happens when the Badgers, Rebellion, Vipers, and Phantoms leave PAHL? Is it business as usual when these four organizations leave? By my count that's 59 teams that would no longer be competing in PAHL.

I don't think any of this is good for our pocketbooks. What should PAHL be doing about this? Do other organizations just keep going with the status quo? AHF/Black Bear already decimated a local league in eastern PA. I think we're next.

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43 minutes ago, Ihearthockey said:

Rebellion 07s are already listed as part of AHF on MHR I believe. As well as with PAHL.

Interesting. Looks like it's a U15 AA AHF division. There's one change PAHL could make, offer a 15U division to go along with the 13U division.

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Looking at the AHF rules, looks like 10U and 12U have 15 minute periods with an 80 minute ice slot. 14U is 16 minute periods with a 90 minute ice slot. 15U, 16U, and 18U have 17 minute periods with a 100 minute ice slot.

PAHL is not going to be the same when it loses Allegheny, Rebellion, Vipers, and Phantoms. Others will surely follow. I don't think PAHL is going to be able to adapt and respond quick enough.

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Well,  they can force their home teams into it.  Or those teams decide not to do it and look for a different Arena.

For any teams outside of those ones in Black Bear arenas,  Black Bear is going to have to provide some kind of major benefit for those teams to leave PAHL and join them. 

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Here in the East, AHF will be in their first full season of league play.  There is still a bunch of stuff not released yet, most important is the path to Nationals.  But, they did their seeding already, their schedules are out, their website is up to date, they have a plan to rebalance divisions during the season if really needed.  All the things that "the parents" seem to perennially complain about.

Funny thing though, it is still the same players as were playing in the DVHL and NJYHL. 

Will keep you updated on how it is going!

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1 hour ago, Saucey said:

Yeah, people have been talking about Blackbeard's impact for a while. Monopolies usually end up costing everyone more money.

You are correct about that. Let’s hope that it doesn’t happen. I would think that Baeirl, Ice Castle, RMU, Butler Valley and YMCA are not going to be bought by Blackbear because who their owners are. And Kirk Nevin, Beaver, Lawrence  and Kittanning are municipal so Blackbear won’t be able to acquire them.  So hopefully they will not be able to become a monopoly in our area. 

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34 minutes ago, Happy Hockey Fan said:

You are correct about that. Let’s hope that it doesn’t happen. I would think that Baeirl, Ice Castle, RMU, Butler Valley and YMCA are not going to be bought by Blackbear because who their owners are. And Kirk Nevin, Beaver, Lawrence  and Kittanning are municipal so Blackbear won’t be able to acquire them.  So hopefully they will not be able to become a monopoly in our area. 

This is a great thread that should get some current leaders starting to think.  Mt. Lebanon is municipal as well, so no concern there.  I would agree on Butler Valley and Baierl and even Alpha for that matter are not for sale at moment as well, but keep in mind these owners or rink managers and others involved keep getting older every year.  I am certainly not saying they are old or anything now, but just wondering how long they will keep going with it.  Perhaps it will be method to keep their kids all involved down the road, similar to Ice Castle and they will be able to keep in family for awhile.  

My biggest concern is that when current generation of Penguins finally throw in the towel we will see hockey lose some steam in the area and so there will not be the same demand for ice time.  Black Bear will be there to step in as needed.  I believe Blackbeard is diversified in several different markets that they can weather some downturn.  They also control all aspects of the process, so have a lot more income than just from the ice time.  I know several of the regional rinks are community owned, but I see other commercial ones as potential targets as well and PAHL counts on a lot of those teams for membership as well. 

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2 hours ago, pickle said:

This is a great thread that should get some current leaders starting to think.  Mt. Lebanon is municipal as well, so no concern there.  I would agree on Butler Valley and Baierl and even Alpha for that matter are not for sale at moment as well, but keep in mind these owners or rink managers and others involved keep getting older every year.  I am certainly not saying they are old or anything now, but just wondering how long they will keep going with it.  Perhaps it will be method to keep their kids all involved down the road, similar to Ice Castle and they will be able to keep in family for awhile.  

My biggest concern is that when current generation of Penguins finally throw in the towel we will see hockey lose some steam in the area and so there will not be the same demand for ice time.  Black Bear will be there to step in as needed.  I believe Blackbeard is diversified in several different markets that they can weather some downturn.  They also control all aspects of the process, so have a lot more income than just from the ice time.  I know several of the regional rinks are community owned, but I see other commercial ones as potential targets as well and PAHL counts on a lot of those teams for membership as well. 

I agree that those rinks won't sell to Black Bear. But PAHL needs to realize it's time to make some change...regardless of ownership, Black Bear is offering a season outside of playing the same teams...year after year...as well as visibility outside of the "pahl' region. End of the day, Black Bear sees what the end consumer is craving/wanting (regardless of how anyone feels about it) and PAHL simply is disregarding what the consumer (ie player/parents) needs/wants... It is what it is. 

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I have said this before but I don’t see how BB being in the area is a bad thing at all. With the AHF offering a half season option, I could see many PAHL teams taking advantage of this. Say you take a 10U AA PAHL team and get your 6 preseason games, 14 regular season, 4 ODSET, add in AHF half season and that’s another 16 games spread out over 4 weekend trips to Philly/NJ, throw in a local tournament and a travel one somewhere else for another 8-10 games, maybe 4-6 independently scheduled games and you’ve got yourself a good season of around 50-55 total games with a good variety if opponents and decent amount of travel. 
 

I don’t see BB offering an AHF West division until they get more clubs on board here and that can’t be done without buying more rinks because that’s the whole thing about the AHF is that they make their own rules and schedules and it’s all done so by one group of centralized people, not by the rink. I have heard strong rumors that BB is looking at Alpha, which would make total sense as BB are now partners with the USPHL. 
 

Just wait a few more years until Black Bear buys UPMC and everyone’s head will explode. 

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15 minutes ago, forbin said:

I have said this before but I don’t see how BB being in the area is a bad thing at all. With the AHF offering a half season option, I could see many PAHL teams taking advantage of this. Say you take a 10U AA PAHL team and get your 6 preseason games, 14 regular season, 4 ODSET, add in AHF half season and that’s another 16 games spread out over 4 weekend trips to Philly/NJ, throw in a local tournament and a travel one somewhere else for another 8-10 games, maybe 4-6 independently scheduled games and you’ve got yourself a good season of around 50-55 total games with a good variety if opponents and decent amount of travel. 
 

I don’t see BB offering an AHF West division until they get more clubs on board here and that can’t be done without buying more rinks because that’s the whole thing about the AHF is that they make their own rules and schedules and it’s all done so by one group of centralized people, not by the rink. I have heard strong rumors that BB is looking at Alpha, which would make total sense as BB are now partners with the USPHL. 
 

Just wait a few more years until Black Bear buys UPMC and everyone’s head will explode. 

Yea I've heard that alpha is in a very bad spot financially, so I could see that being the next black bear acquisition...

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3 hours ago, forbin said:

I have said this before but I don’t see how BB being in the area is a bad thing at all. With the AHF offering a half season option, I could see many PAHL teams taking advantage of this. Say you take a 10U AA PAHL team and get your 6 preseason games, 14 regular season, 4 ODSET, add in AHF half season and that’s another 16 games spread out over 4 weekend trips to Philly/NJ, throw in a local tournament and a travel one somewhere else for another 8-10 games, maybe 4-6 independently scheduled games and you’ve got yourself a good season of around 50-55 total games with a good variety if opponents and decent amount of travel. 
 

I don’t see BB offering an AHF West division until they get more clubs on board here and that can’t be done without buying more rinks because that’s the whole thing about the AHF is that they make their own rules and schedules and it’s all done so by one group of centralized people, not by the rink. I have heard strong rumors that BB is looking at Alpha, which would make total sense as BB are now partners with the USPHL. 
 

Just wait a few more years until Black Bear buys UPMC and everyone’s head will explode. 

Good thoughts. I agree that it's nice to have options. My worry is that we are headed down a path where things will be forced on us.

I've heard the same things about Alpha. You add all Renegade teams to the huge list of Badgers, Rebellion, Vipers, and Phantoms, and then all of a sudden you might reach a tipping point where PAHL is just a shell of its former self, especially with the top end AA teams. At that point dominoes could just start to fall. It's happened in other places once Black Bear got a foothold.

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3 hours ago, forbin said:

I have said this before but I don’t see how BB being in the area is a bad thing at all. With the AHF offering a half season option, I could see many PAHL teams taking advantage of this. Say you take a 10U AA PAHL team and get your 6 preseason games, 14 regular season, 4 ODSET, add in AHF half season and that’s another 16 games spread out over 4 weekend trips to Philly/NJ, throw in a local tournament and a travel one somewhere else for another 8-10 games, maybe 4-6 independently scheduled games and you’ve got yourself a good season of around 50-55 total games with a good variety if opponents and decent amount of travel. 
 

I don’t see BB offering an AHF West division until they get more clubs on board here and that can’t be done without buying more rinks because that’s the whole thing about the AHF is that they make their own rules and schedules and it’s all done so by one group of centralized people, not by the rink. I have heard strong rumors that BB is looking at Alpha, which would make total sense as BB are now partners with the USPHL. 
 

Just wait a few more years until Black Bear buys UPMC and everyone’s head will explode. 

I don't know enough about rink owners in the West.  But there are quite a few teams in the AHF that are not owned by BB or play in a BB rink.  Team Philadelphia and VF Minutemen are privately owned by rink owners.  Haverford Hawks plays in a municipal rink.  Wissahickon's rink is owned by a skating club I believe. 

I could be sooner than you think.

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Wow, That's really interesting if true.   People on here made it sound like the only thing Rostraver was good for is a warehouse!  Hmm,  as far as I'm concerned that's really good news that the are taking it over.  A renovated Rostraver is a great addition to the area.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, sadday4hockey said:

Whilst everyone was debating which rink would be the next target for BB, the one no one mentioned was just purchased by them and that's Rostraver. Done deal.

Interesting. That has to be their least expensive transaction in a long time.  I'm surprised the Ice Garden is a type of rink that fits their business model. I think it'll be tough to make that place highly profitable. Maybe they just wanted another rink and another organization they could make join the AHF. A few more teams to get the snowball rolling. As it picks up steam it's going to keep collecting more and more PAHL organizations.

Edited by RJUSHL
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48 minutes ago, RJUSHL said:

Interesting. That has to be their least expensive transaction in a long time.  I'm surprised the Ice Garden is a type of rink that fits their business model. I think it'll be tough to make that place highly profitable. Maybe they just wanted another rink and another organization they could make join the AHF. A few more teams to get the snowball rolling. As it picks up steam it's going to keep collecting more and more PAHL organizations.

I thought that they only dealt with rinks that had 2 or more sheets of ice? Even with the renovations is there not still a ton of work to be done there. 

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3 hours ago, Pucks11 said:

I thought that they only dealt with rinks that had 2 or more sheets of ice? Even with the renovations is there not still a ton of work to be done there. 

They also just bought Youngstown which has 1 sheet.  ***edit: though they could convert back to 2 I assume

Edited by Lucky17
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