At first, I quickly drank the kool-aid on that one. After some careful consideration, though, that land acquisition seems way too small to have anything to do with the construction of an arena. Follow me for a second.
One acre is equal to 43,560 square feet. 25.7 acres is a total of 1,119,492 square feet. Looking around the league at the size of the arenas, most of them are roughly the same size. Using the Bell Centre in Montréal as an example, it is 351 feet by 479 feet, or 168,129 square feet. This refers to just the arena itself. Many other arenas have outbuildings or annexes, but this one is just the single building.
If you built a building like that on the Balsillie plot of land, you're left with 951,363 square feet. That sounds like a lot, but it isn't. At least not if you want to have any parking. According to some research that I've done, you need approximately 325 square feet for every parking space. This accounts for the parking space itself, plus the driving lanes between the rows, and other space necessary to make the parking lot functional. If you slammed the parking lot smack up against the building, that kind of land allows for 2,927 parking spaces. That doesn't allow for any roads on the premises or any landscaping, or any bus parking lots, or anything else. 2,927 parking spaces is not nearly enough. Especially if you're talking about an area that isn't exactly urban.
Parking garages tend to be more trouble than they're worth, and moreso as their scale increases. A garage/garages capable of handling 8,000 cars would be enormous, and would create a world of headache for fans entering and exiting the structure.
None of this talk has even gotten into the other infrastructural things arenas need like landscaping and bus lots and roads.
Could the parcel of land host an arena and an enormous parking deck? Theoretically, yes. Logistically and realistically, no. That land is for something else.
Earlier this week, in Gary Bettman's state of the League address, he claimed that Jim Balsillie had no intentions of moving the Predators. We all know this to be false, but reporters somehow spun Bettman's words into the misleading "The Predators aren't going anywhere". Referring to the "cure" clause in the Predators' lease with Nashville, what he actually said was
"If the attendance mark is satisfied, even if it's not, or if the city cures what would then be the default, this team is not going anywhere"
Even still, it's apparent that Balsillie has other plans. On Thursday, it was announced the the city of Hamilton has given Balsillie a thumbs-up to take over the Hamilton Place and Convention Centre (which includes the 17,500 seat Copps Coliseum) if he brings an NHL team there. Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger:
He has assured me that he wants to secure a team and he is interested in bringing it to Hamilton.
Quite different from Gary Bettman's quote when asked if Balsillie wanted to move the team:
"He told me that he did not"
Forget about the land acquisition. This is where the Preds would play.
Move the Preds to the Northeast division of the Eastern Conference.
To make up for the Conference imbalance, move the Thrashers to the Central division of the Western Conference. They're further west than Detroit and Columbus anyway.
To make up for the division imbalance, two moves have to be made. Move Boston out of the Northeast and into the Atlantic. Secondly, move Philadelphia out of the Atlantic and into the "Southeast" division. It'll break up some of the traditional division rivals, but there might not be another way to achieve balance. Rename the division. Better yet, rename ALL of the divisions. Ditch the geographic names and go back to the old school.