Hamilton politicians not giving up on NHL team but fans less certain

TORONTO – Hamilton politicians aren’t giving up on the idea of getting a National Hockey League team in their city, but local fans aren’t so sure about keeping their hopes up after yet another setback.

On Monday, an Arizona judge delivered a major blow to Blackberry billionaire Jim Balsillie’s attempts to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton, but Mayor Fred Eisenberger isn’t admitting defeat yet.

Eisenberger says “the issue is still very much alive,” while Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath – a Hamiltonian – calls the court ruling “a minor delay of game.”

However, laid off steelworker Marty Barone says buying a ticket to support an NHL team is the last thing on the minds of the thousands of people in the city who are out of work.

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Barone says a professional hockey team would be great for the city’s economy “if people were working.”

An online survey by the Hamilton Spectator shows fans are evenly split on whether or not to keep hoping for an NHL team, with 36 per cent saying the dream is dead while 37 per cent say it isn’t over yet.

Another 25 per cent believe Hamilton will eventually get an NHL team, but not for a while.