The main debate on whether the NHL can prove that if the Coyotes move to Hamilton, it would create undue stress on the Sabres. Many feel that the Sabres fanbase is too small to handle a team infringing on its territory and that the new Hamilton team would create more issues for the Sabres. South Buffalo Councilman Mickey Kearns has some interesting quotes about the situation:
"If we were talking about a much bigger city, like a New York or a Chicago, I think they could probably handle and absorb that competition," Kearns said. "But this could be very detrimental to the Buffalo Sabres, and I do think that the NHL has to look very closely before they consider moving that team to Hamilton."
I honestly do not believe that the full time Canadian influence on this team hovers around 15% While 15% seems like a lot, it only represents about 3,000 season tickets which I feel that could be absorbed by the rest of the area. While Buffalo is the third poorest city in America and losing people left and right, if this team was put in Windsor or any where near the Detroit area this debate would never happen. Detroit and Buffalo can almost be considered mirror cities with both suffering through hard times, Buffalo losing people with the steel industry and Detroit losing people with the auto industry. The Detroit area seems to be able to handle four professional sports teams while the Buffalo area can only handle one possibly two.
The Buffalo area is more than suitable to handle a team moving to Hamilton. What is unknown in this whole situation is whether Hamilton could handle an NHL team. Many things have to happen for the Coyotes to play in Hamilton including the reconstruction of Copps Coliseum among them. While Balsillie has all of those plans in the works, is it possible for him to fund all of this and possibly handle a major debt load. The cost of the team could skyrocket to near $500 million if the NHL decides to enter a relocation fee and adding on top of that the added cost of completely renovating Copps, this deal could run into the billion dollar territory.