We’re well aware the issues with the Arizona Coyotes over the better part of a decade now. It’s been added to thanks to the story about possibly sharing the new rink built for the Arizona State hockey team while they await their arena in Tempe to be build.
You know– the arena they don’t actually have yet but how the hell could they lose to themselves since they were the only bidder for the grounds that Tempe put out there– oh wait, they are losing out on it due to lack of support form the city.
Some of the uproar about the move varies from the arena being very small for NHL standards to people pointing out the effort the NHL has put in to keeping the team in the area through all the ownership issues and money problems. To which, I can see their point. First, the new Arizona State arena only is slated to hold 5,000 people in there. Fun fact– only two AHL arenas (Utica and Belleville), two ECHL teams (Glen Falls and Trois-Rivieres), and two SPHL arenas (Vermilion County and Birmingham) hold less than the new arena. Optics don’t look at this too kindly for a top-level NHL team.
Secondly, the NHL has gone all out to try and make the Coyotes works in Arizona– rightly or wrongly. The owners have come and gone from this franchise, all citing being in Glendale as the reason for their shortcomings in the stands. While that could be true, Glendale has over 250,000 people living there so it’s not like it’s some out of the way hamlet with no people– hell, it’s even considered part of the Phoenix-metro area that consist of almost five-million people. You’d have to think there’s some kind of marketing scheme that’d be able to get 17,000 people into Gila River Arena on a gamely basis.
The debate about trying to keep the Nordiques, original Jets, and North Stars in their area could rage on forever– but at the time you could see the NHL’s strategy in order to boost league revenues and interests beyond the markets they were in– Quebec City and Winnipeg being the two smallest at the time. That said, the NHL has been consistent in trying to keep teams in their current markets– Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Ottawa, Buffalo, Nashville– they’ve all had the NHL intervene with finding owners to keep the team in the area or being the medium to bridge a gap for a new arena– looking at you next, Calgary. So, the fight they are putting up now with the Coyotes (and have been since 2008) is consistent with what they have been doing– so I’m not shocked.
For me, the biggest play will be what happens if the Arizona State deal does work and the Coyotes actually do get granted the land to build in Tempe. Since Gila River is no longer an option since the Coyotes will get the boot after this season and it’ll be 3-4 years before any new arena will be done; owners and players probably aren’t going to be too happy with a team playing in that small of an arena. Will it be a ruckus crowd?? Perhaps, if the ticket prices are right– hell, you get enough die-hards into that building; it might be the toughest place to play by year two.
Of course, that’s if everything were to go to plan and the history of the Coyotes dictates that there’s always going to be a wrench thrown in there. All the while, people in Houston get their hopes up and lick their lips at the possibility of getting this team in their area– an area I’m sure the NHL owners would love to be in.
While this does suck for fans of the Coyotes and it drains the nerves of other fans– you can’t deny how interesting and entertaining from the outside this really is. For 14 years it’s been a “will they, won’t they” situation and has amused me for that time span. Wherever the cards may fall– this could be the final season of it and we should enjoy it while we can because stability will ruin this whole bit.