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Phoenix president says ‘we need stronger support’ in response to attendance figures

Dec 26, 2013, 3:57 PM EDT

leblancgetty Getty Images

The Phoenix Coyotes are playing pretty well and finally have an ownership group in place, but attendance remains an issue. Team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc acknowledged as much to the Arizona Republic on Tuesday.

“I’m probably a little disappointed in where we are with attendance,” LeBlanc said. “There are those marquee games like the Chicago game, which was obviously a very big night for us from the perspective that we broke the regular-season franchise record for gate revenue for a single game. But (two weeks ago), we had the Islanders and Carolina in town and there was roughly 10,000, 11,000 people in the building, and that’s simply not good enough. So we know those are the nights we have a lot of work to do.”

On the other hand, LeBlanc (pictured to the left of Gary Bettman) found optimism in certain areas, including drawing an upcoming sellout against the Sharks; he noted that previous home contests against San Jose didn’t draw the same level of interest.

“There are some positives, but there’s a lot more work,” LeBlanc said. “We need stronger support.”

Perhaps getting into the outdoor games mix might help?

“We’re looking at a number of different opportunities,” LeBlanc said. “We think the outdoor game based off what the league is doing this year in Los Angeles, the fact that there’s a dome game in Vancouver and that the New York games are tied around the Super Bowl, we think there’s some pretty interesting synergy for next season … But there are a number of other things we can do that we think are more in our control to grow the sport in the region.”

In the meantime, the best way to gradually increase support is probably to remain competitive in the tough Western Conference.

For more on how LeBlanc thinks the Coyotes can drum up interest – including Shane Doan‘s efforts to bolster the area’s youth hockey movement – read the full story.

Related: Coyotes president touts off-ice turnaround

  1. thailer35 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    I know I’ve said this like 10 times already, but if you look at the last time games were played in Oct-Nov-Dec, attendance is up significantly, and should continue that way through the beggining of next year and on through (hopefully) the playoffs.

    That being said, I love the fact that this is how LeBlanc and Co. are responding. I am convinced now that this 5 year out clause was designed to be an in-case-of-emergency type of thing. I am hoping that this kind of attitude and hard work can make hockey thrive here in the valley of the sun for years to come, so that my children can grow up watching the sport that I love and the team that I have loved since they moved here.

    • sloanrox - Dec 27, 2013 at 1:44 AM

      I hope it turns around, even to just the old days of 15000. But five years of 12 or 13 isn’t a step in the right direction. It sucks for the fans who do go, but it’s reality. You got the team from a city who was only getting 13K a night…

  2. skr213 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    I may be moving back to AZ this coming year and if I do, I’ll definitely be getting season tix. This team is good and deserves support. It might help if the local news in PHX and TUC covered hockey more than high school golf.

  3. sloanrox - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Wait a sec…attendance is a problem in Phx? Weird…I had never heard that.

    • skr213 - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      Weird, I’d never heard a joke like this before.

      • critter69 - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:08 PM

        The Phoenix metro area has a population of more than 4.3 million, and so far this year has a home attendance at NHL games (current season) of about 12,662.

        The Fort Wayne metro area has a population of a bit over 600,000, and has a home attendance at ECHL games (current season) of about 7,324.

        You’d think a metro area 7 times larger than Fort Wayne’s would have a home attendance figure much more than 70% larger, let alone having an NHL franchise rather than an ECHL franchise.

      • sloanrox - Dec 27, 2013 at 1:20 AM

        Not a joke. The market doesn’t have enough interest. Easy as that. No offence to fans that do go, there just aren’t enough of you. New owners, good building, good team and they can’t outdraw even the lowly Islanders, who play in a chemical toilet and are leaving the city. It’s like TB in baseball…nobody goes. So let’s just call it what it is and end the charade. Put this team in a market where it will thrive.

  4. kevindunn21 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m thanking my lucky stars and the all-powerful Gary Bettman for changing the scheduling system. Who wants to miss out on extra box office bonanzas like Isles @ Phoenix and Carolina @ Anaheim? Not I.

    • greatmiamisportsmind - Dec 26, 2013 at 8:02 PM

      The Islanders and Carolina only showed up once a year under the old format anyways. Not sure how that has changed?

  5. killerpgh - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    My wives parents moved about 10 miles away from the Coyotes arena a few month ago. The Penguins play out there in early February so I was gonna fly us out there to see her parents and catch the Pens/Coyotes game. I was shocked how expensive the tickets would be and how little they had left for the game. I pay season ticket holder price for my Pens tickets and get a pretty good discount. Obviously I wouldn’t get that discount for a game in Arizona, but I was still expecting the tickets to be less than I pay for my Pens tickets and I was wrong.

    • skr213 - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      You must have been looking at some pretty good seats! I brought my family to a Sharks/Coyotes game when in town visiting for the holidays and we got a bunch of seats in the first row of the upper deck for like $30 each. Compared to what I’d pay at the Shark Tank for the same seats, that’s a good deal.

      • killerpgh - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:57 PM

        $30 per seat would be great. Maybe they will go down closer to the game. Almost everything in the 2nd level are already bought and are up for resale and are going for $85-100+. There are some 1st level tickets going for $100. All you here about is how bad attendance is for I was figuring less than $200 would get the 4 of us in with good seat (lower 2nd level). But I just looked again on ticket master after reading your post and that isn’t the case.

      • skr213 - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:46 PM

        Well, on the plus side, that sounds like good news for the organization. But uhhh without giving them too much of a plug, you may want to check stubhub.

      • greatmiamisportsmind - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:31 PM

        I don’t think owners really care how much tickets are selling for on stubhub or any other secondary market. Even if $150 tickets are listed for $25 on stubhub, the team already got their $150.

    • blomfeld - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:20 PM

      “My wives parents” ?

      We take it friend that you must be a polygamist ? :)

      • killerpgh - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:34 PM

        I noticed that as soon as I typed it. And edit button would be nice. I would use it a lot.

      • critter69 - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:21 PM

        killerpgh?

        “And edit button would be great. I would use it a lot.”

        Yes, we can tell. (“And edit button. . . .”? At least you didn’t place an ‘a’ prior to a vowel sound.)

        Hint – ever consider reviewing what you type BEFORE you hit the “Post comment” button?

  6. pavelfitzgerald - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    It is Pittsburgh though – I would hope they could sell a lot of seats to one of the top 5 draws in the league.

    Anyone can sell out for Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, etc. the real markets still draw when Carolina, Buffalo, Nashville come to town & in a gate driven league you need good-great attendance on those nights, not 10 000

  7. jason9696 - Dec 26, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    Just move them to Quebec City or Seattle already. Preferably to Quebec City. But that idiot Gary Bettman will never do that.

    Phoenix just does NOT deserve a hockey team.

    • thailer35 - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      That’s why there are only 118 tickets available for tonightd game on stubhub starting at $63?

      Watch attendance rise now that Christmas is over.

  8. canucks30 - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Phoenix has an NHL team?

  9. proudliberal85392 - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    jason9696, I wish I was as all-knowing as you.

    • slickdemetrius - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      I bet you do, but as a “proud liberal”, wishing is all you can rely on.

  10. proudliberal85392 - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Heads up, thailer35! The trolls are back. See you tomorrow against the Sharks?

  11. blomfeld - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    GO COYOTES GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Proudliberal, Thailer and other proud Coyote supporters …

    As you may know, I Blomfeld just recently went on the record here at PHT as one who ‘officially’ supports the cause of NHL hockey in Phoenix AZ. Yes friends, after previously dismissing your team as being nothing more than an ‘ill-advised & costly’ mistake in the desert, it finally occurred to me that your enterprise today is very similar to that of my LA Kings back in the early 70’s … a loser ‘sunbelt’ team with few ‘if any’ prospects for the future, etc. Fair enough, but just take a look at who won the last ‘asterisk free’ Stanley Cup ? … you’ve got it Pontiac ! … them glorious Kings of Los Angeles !

    So hang in there friends and stay true to your team … today, tomorrow and forever !!!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR AND HAPPINESS ALWAYS TO ALL COYOTE FANS !!! :)

  12. mildfan - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    Seaaaaaaaaaaaaattle!!! I would hate to see it happen but the coyotes are a good club and should be playing in a full arena! Fill the building Phoenix, not a sell out just full!

  13. rainyday56 - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    I was as mean as anyone with past comments regarding the state of pro hockey in Arizona. Then I had the great fortune to watch a game in the beautiful Jobing.com area in November. All I can say now is long live hockey in the valley and best of the season to the sweet folks I met there.

  14. proudliberal85392 - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    thailer35, standing room tickets went on sale this morning.

    blomfeld, once again, thank you for your kind words!

  15. proudliberal85392 - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    rainyday56, welcome to the light! Tonight is the 10th anniversary of the arena’s opening. Thanks for the kind words and the ability to change your mind.

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