Why Doesn’t Wisconsin Have An Nhl Team : Disappointing Decade!



Why Doesn't Wisconsin Have An Nhl Team

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Introduction to Why Doesn’t Wisconsin Have An Nhl Team 

Why Doesn’t Wisconsin Have An NHL Team? Today we i answer this question. Since its founding in 1917, the National Hockey League (NHL) has expanded from its original four teams to 32 teams as of 2021.

The league’s growth has been driven by increasing popularity, technological advancements in broadcasting, and the evolving sports landscape.

Yet, despite this expansion, one state remains conspicuously absent from the NHL roster: Wisconsin. In this blog post, we dive into why Wisconsin doesn’t have an NHL team, examining historical attempts, economic and geographical factors, and the perspectives of local sports fans.

Why Doesn't Wisconsin Have An Nhl Team
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Historical Attempts

Wisconsin’s first taste of NHL hockey came in the form of the Milwaukee Admirals, a minor league team that joined the American Hockey League (AHL) in 1977. Despite achieving success and winning multiple Calder Cups, the Admirals have never been promoted to the NHL.

In 1982, there was an attempt to bring an expansion team, the Wisconsin Warriors, to Madison but it fell through due to financial issues. Another attempt was made in 1993 with a potential team called the Wisconsin Cheddars, but this proposal also failed.

Economic and Geographical Factors

One reason for Wisconsin’s lack of an NHL team may be its relatively small market size compared to other states. With a population of about 5.8 million, Wisconsin falls behind other states with NHL teams such as California (39.5 million), New York (19.4 million), and Pennsylvania (12.7 million). This smaller market size may make it less attractive for the NHL to expand or relocate a team to Wisconsin.

Moreover, Wisconsin’s geographical location may also pose challenges for hosting an NHL team. The state is located in the Midwest region of the United States, far from traditional hockey hotspots like Canada and the Northeastern states. As a result, it may be more difficult to attract top talent and build a strong fan base in this region.

Perspectives of Local Sports Fans

Despite not having an NHL team, hockey remains a popular sport in Wisconsin at both the amateur and professional levels.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison boasts a successful collegiate hockey program, and many youth and adult leagues are active across the state. However, for some local sports fans, the absence of an NHL team is seen as a missed opportunity to showcase their love for the sport on a larger stage.

Historical Analysis

Past Attempts and Discussions

Throughout the years, there have been various discussions and efforts to bring an NHL team to Wisconsin, specifically Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Admirals, an American Hockey League (AHL) team, serves as a testament to the state’s passion for hockey. However, despite multiple attempts to transition into the NHL, these efforts have never materialized.

In the early 1990s, Milwaukee was a potential candidate during the NHL’s expansion phase, competing against cities like Ottawa and Tampa Bay. However, the NHL chose to grant franchises to other cities, leaving Milwaukee in the cold. Factors such as financial backing, arena readiness, and market size played crucial roles in these decisions.

Economic and Cultural Factors

While Wisconsin may not have the population or geographical advantages of other states with NHL teams, some argue that the state’s strong hockey culture could make up for these shortcomings.

The success of college and minor league teams in Wisconsin shows that there is a demand for hockey in the state. Additionally, cities like Green Bay and Milwaukee have proven to be successful hosts for professional sports teams such as the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.

However, it is also worth considering the financial implications of bringing an NHL team to Wisconsin. Building a new arena or renovating an existing one would require significant investment, which may deter potential owners. It may also be difficult to secure corporate sponsorships and sell out games consistently in a smaller market.

Sports Culture in Wisconsin

Wisconsin boasts a rich sports culture, home to fervent fan bases for the Green Bay Packers (NFL), Milwaukee Brewers (MLB), and Milwaukee Bucks (NBA). The state’s enthusiasm for professional sports is undeniable.

Despite this, the NHL has yet to find its footing in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Badgers’ college hockey team enjoys substantial support, highlighting the potential for hockey’s growth at the professional level. With the right combination of ownership, investment, and market conditions, an NHL team could potentially thrive in Wisconsin.

A Rich Hockey Culture

Existing Professional and Collegiate Hockey Teams

Wisconsin’s love for hockey is far from dormant. The state boasts several successful hockey programs, particularly at the collegiate level. The Wisconsin Badgers are a powerhouse in NCAA hockey, consistently drawing large crowds and cultivating a dedicated following.

The Milwaukee Admirals, who play in the American Hockey League (AHL), have been a staple in Milwaukee’s sports landscape, providing high-quality hockey entertainment to local fans for decades.

Historical Context

Early Efforts and Challenges

The effort to bring an NHL team to Wisconsin is not new. In the early 1990s, there was a significant push to attract an NHL franchise to Milwaukee. The Bradley Center, which opened in 1988, was specifically designed to accommodate hockey games, with the hope that it would become the home of an NHL team. Despite these efforts, the dream never materialized.

The Milwaukee Admirals have played a crucial role in keeping professional hockey alive in the state, but the challenge of securing an NHL team has persisted.

Market and Demographics

Fan Base and Support

Wisconsin is known for its enthusiastic support of college hockey, particularly the Wisconsin Badgers. The team regularly garners significant attention and attendance, demonstrating the state’s robust appetite for the sport.

The Milwaukee Admirals also enjoy a loyal fan base, underscoring the community’s readiness to support hockey at a professional level. When compared to other states and cities that have successfully supported NHL teams, Wisconsin’s market potential appears promising.

Economic and Financial Factors

Expansion and Relocation Costs

One of the primary hurdles in bringing an NHL team to Wisconsin has been the financial aspect. NHL expansion fees are notoriously high, presenting a significant investment challenge.

Additionally, past efforts to secure an NHL team for Milwaukee faced financial obstacles, making it difficult to bring the dream to fruition. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the financial landscape for sports investments in Wisconsin.

Competition and Territorial Rights

Proximity to Existing NHL Teams

Geographical factors also play a crucial role in the absence of an NHL team in Wisconsin. The state is situated between two established NHL markets: the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild.

This proximity raises questions about the potential fan base overlap and territorial rights. Alleged territorial rights issues with the Chicago Blackhawks have been cited as a significant barrier to Milwaukee securing an NHL franchise.

Arena and Infrastructure

Suitability of Existing Venues

The Bradley Center, once a beacon of hope for NHL aspirations, was eventually deemed obsolete and was replaced by the state-of-the-art Fiserv Forum. While the Fiserv Forum is primarily home to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, its modern amenities and versatile design make it a viable candidate for hosting an NHL team.

However, considerations regarding scheduling, tenant agreements, and additional infrastructure improvements continue to pose challenges.

Community and Cultural Factors

Local Sports Culture

Wisconsin’s sports culture is deeply ingrained, with passionate support for its existing teams. Introducing an NHL team could potentially enhance this culture by creating new local rivalries and boosting the state’s overall hockey scene.

The presence of successful teams like the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Milwaukee Brewers illustrates the state’s capacity to support another major sports franchise. The addition of an NHL team could further solidify Wisconsin’s reputation as a sports powerhouse.

Fan Perspectives and Potential Future

Insights from Local Fans

To gauge local interest, we spoke with Wisconsin sports enthusiasts and NHL fans. The consensus is clear: there is a strong desire for an NHL team. Fans highlight their passion for hockey, underscored by their support for the Milwaukee Admirals and Wisconsin Badgers.

They argue that an NHL team would be embraced with open arms, bringing added excitement to the state’s sports scene. Despite the challenges, fans remain optimistic that an NHL team in Wisconsin is a matter of “when,” not “if.”

Potential Future Scenarios

Looking ahead, several scenarios could pave the way for an NHL team in Wisconsin:

  1. Relocation: An existing NHL team facing financial or logistical issues could relocate to Wisconsin, similar to how the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets.
  2. Expansion: Although the NHL has recently expanded to include the Seattle Kraken, future expansion plans could consider Milwaukee, especially if the league sees untapped potential in the Wisconsin market.
  3. Arena Development: The development of a state-of-the-art arena meeting NHL standards could entice the league to consider Wisconsin as a viable option. This could involve a joint effort between private investors and public entities.
  4. The success of Current Teams: Continued success and support for the Milwaukee Admirals and Wisconsin Badgers could demonstrate the viability of an NHL team in the state, making it a more attractive option for potential owners and the league. 


While Wisconsin’s absence from the NHL lineup can be attributed to a combination of historical, economic, and geographical factors, the state’s passion for hockey remains unwavering. The strong sports culture, coupled with local fan enthusiasm, suggests that the idea of an NHL team in Wisconsin is not entirely far-fetched.

The possibility of Wisconsin eventually gaining an NHL team hinges on overcoming economic challenges, strategic positioning within the NHL’s market structure, and continued advocacy from local communities and stakeholders.

We invite you to share your thoughts and predictions in the comments section or on social media. Could Wisconsin finally see an NHL team in the near future? What factors do you think will be pivotal in making this dream a reality?

For further reading, check out our related posts on NHL expansion strategies and the economic impacts of new sports franchises.



About the author


Hey hockey fans, lace up your skates and get ready for a face-off with yours truly, Freddy Scheerer! As a hockey player with a passion for the game, I’m here to share my knowledge, experiences, and love for all things hockey. So join me as we explore the exciting world of hockey! Get ready for drills, discussions, and a whole lot of hockey love. Let’s drop the puck and get this blog started!

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