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Coyotes president touts off-ice turnaround

Dec 19, 2013, 3:05 PM EDT

Coyotes fans Getty Images

The Phoenix Coyotes are dead last in NHL attendance. On Saturday, an announced crowd of just 11,697 showed up to Arena to watch the home team lose, 3-1, to Carolina.

But despite what may seem like a still-dire situation in the desert, Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc is seeing signs of progress.

“Our next home game on December 27 against San Jose is going to be a sellout,” LeBlanc said yesterday on Arizona Sports 620 radio (audio). “So, the fact that we’re finally starting to sell out against some of these rivals in California — that’s a good sign. ”

He added: “From a paid attendance perspective, we’re up somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 percent year over year; sponsorships we can’t even compare to the previous years — things are going so well for us.”

According to LeBlanc — who admits things could still be better and wouldn’t use the word “happy” to describe how he’s feeling about the business — making the playoffs will be “incredibly important” for the Coyotes in terms of helping the new ownership group in their turnaround plans.

Unfortunately, a postseason berth is far from guaranteed at this point.

Bottom 10 in NHL attendance:


Note: Winnipeg’s capacity is 15,004.

  1. rushledger - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    In fairness there’s not much reason to go to a hurricanes/coyotes game for many NHL fans, you wanna talk about the opposite of rivalry.

  2. Kim Mack Rosenberg - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    It seems unfair to judge attendance based only on the number of tickets sold without comparing that to capacity. In particular, looking at the chart above, if Winnipeg’s capacity is 15,004 and they are selling that number of tickets, it seems crazy to call them one of the teams with poor attendance – where would you like them to put more people??? If they only sold 10,000 tickets a game, that’s a different matter. Attendance measured on the number of seats sold vs. capacity is much more telling.

    • Jason Brough - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      I don’t think anyone’s saying the Jets have “poor” attendance. It’s why I put the note below the graph.

      • Kim Mack Rosenberg - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        Fair point but even saying bottom in attendance sounds to me like they are not filling up. I know for many of the teams listed that’s actually the case — Nassau Coliseum can be pretty empty, for example (or if the opposing team is nearby, has a huge showing for the visiting team — I went to see the Bruins there and many of the seats were taken by us Bruins fans!), and I know from watching the ‘Yotes that is often not full too. I would just be curious to see how it played out if capacity was figured into the equation.

    • withseidelinn - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      It should be represented as a percentage not seats filled

  3. blomfeld - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    KISMET ?

    I have to say friends that just recently I’m now finding myself actually hoping for Bettman’s ‘gamble in the desert’ to be a success and I’m not even sure why that is ? Absolutely ‘everything’ about this experiment flies right in the face of sound business & economic principles. In fact a WNBA franchise in Turkmenistan would make more sense than trying to push NHL hockey in the Arizonan desert. Yet for whatever reason, I’m now starting to sense that they just might make a go of it … and good on them for that I say ! :)

    GO COYOTES GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    ps: and to hell with Seattle & Quebec City … I say Nogales and Tombstone ! :)

    • thailer35 - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      Glad to finally have you on board, blomfeld!

      • blomfeld - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:15 PM

        the pleasure is mine friend ! :)

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      • sjsblitz - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:22 PM

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  4. skr213 - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Go Yotes! For every ticket sold, one Canadian hockey fan’s head explodes. We’ll have that “Canada problem” solved in no time. 😉

  5. pavelfitzgerald - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:33 AM

    Jason didn’t label Winnipeg with “poor” attendance. The fact is Winnipeg is in the bottom half of the league in attendance & as he noted they only hold 15, 004, I am one of those 15, 004 & take no offence to this fact.
    It is also a fact that winnipeg has the 3rd highest average ticket prices in the league which compensates for the lower attendance/smaller building. Something tells me though that Phoenix doesn’t rank too high on that average ticket price list .. ..

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