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Financial questions remain for Coyotes one year after purchase

Aug 10, 2014, 9:34 PM EST

New York Rangers v Phoenix Coyotes Getty Images

IceArizona has owned the Coyotes for roughly a year now and while that purchase allowed them to avoid relocation, their long-term future in Glendale still isn’t secure.

The new ownership group has an out clause in its arena-lease agreement that will be triggered if the team loses a cumulative $50 million over five years. That prompted us to select the Coyotes fans themselves as our target in the 2013 edition of our Under Pressure series (if you missed it, it’s Mike Smith this year).

The hope was that fans who were put off by the lengthy period of relocation speculation would give the Coyotes another opportunity now that the team had a fighting chance to remain in Glendale. Additionally, it was believed that the Coyotes would be better marketed following the sale.

To that end, IceArizona deserves some credit, as Five For Howling noted:

The new owners also improved the game day experience at Jobing.com Arena with weekend tailgating, often attended by Team Chairman and Governor Gosbee barbecuing in the parking lots with fans. They also signed a deal to bring Canadian institution Tim Horton’s into the arena, giving relocated native Canadians living in the desert and newbies alike a chance to experience the joy of a coffee and Timbits.

The short-term payoff has been questionable though. The Coyotes were last in the league with an average attendance of 13,775 in 2013-14, according to ESPN.com. That’s down from 13,923 in the shortened season, but still an improvement over the average crowd of 12,420 they drew in 2011-12. An argument can be made that 2011-12 is a better comparison because it was the last full season.

Either way, Coyotes CEO Anthony LeBlanc acknowledged that there’s plenty of work to be done.

“I’m probably a little disappointed in where we are with attendance,” LeBlanc said in December. “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 one year into the IceArizona’s era and the jury’s still out as to whether or not it will be a success. Ultimately, the fate of the Coyotes might rest on the players themselves, seeing as the best way to draw a crowd is with a winning team.

  1. kevindunn21 - Aug 10, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    How’s that new schedule working out? do not need Isles/Coyotes twice a year.

  2. thailer35 - Aug 10, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    “Ultimately, the fate of the Coyotes might rest on the players themselves, seeing as the best way to draw a crowd is with a winning team.”

    Absolutely. Phoenix has always been a bandwagon town. As soon as you start succeeding, you have everyone’s attention.

  3. mikdavfle - Aug 11, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    Ultimately, the biggest problem for the Coyotes is Glendale. They NEVER should’ve built their arena there. Some of what’s happened since isn’t Glendale’s fault (the cancelled season for example, which would’ve been the 1st full season for that arena), but it’s been the biggest hurdle for the franchise’s long term success.

  4. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 11, 2014 at 1:07 AM

    When you look at metro area size to attendance, Phoenix and Florida are so profoundly lagging fan support vs. small market Nashville, Columbus and Winnipeg.

    They are sustained by league revunue sharing, and “likely ultimately clueless” cushy “economic development” leases, that can’t continue long term.

    When do you recognize a failure?

    • patthehockeyfan - Aug 11, 2014 at 7:04 AM

      I don’t disagree with you; however, when you mention Phoenix and Florida, you have to take into account that both those cities have other professional sports teams competing for fans’ attention.

      While Nashville has the Titans, Columbus has no other major professional sports team other than the NHL. (If you believe Urban Meyer, football coach at Ohio State, Columbus has no other professional sports team – at all. What a d*head.)

      Mentioning Winnipeg is unfair because ice hockey is a religion in Canada.

      There is no easy solution for Phoenix, or in this case, Glendale. I think they’ll limp along until they’re relocated … weekend tailgating and Tim Horton’s notwithstanding.

      • letsgocaps88 - Aug 11, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        Columbus crew of the MLS?

    • rmccleary97 - Aug 11, 2014 at 11:59 AM

      Even if Phoenix and Florida were selling out every night, they migh still be “sustained by league revenue sharing” because of how the entire revenue sharing system works. No matter where you put teams, some number of them are going to be eligible for (and receive) revenue sharing – unless you can magically channel a way to make all 30 teams “above average” in team revenues.

      Besides, Florida wasn’t anything close to a failure from 1994-2000. The last several years, … sure – but that also coincides with a period of time where the Panthers have been a collective 391 W, 458 L, 51 T, 132 OTL’s and posted one (1) playoff appearance (going out in 7 to the Devils), one (1) other season above 86 points, and three (3) other seasons above even 77 points. Much of the time, the Panthers have gone straight into the toilet and been out of playoff contention before the halfway point. Kind of hard to motivate fans to shell out dollars for a game like that.

      Also making your comparison not apples-to-apples: Nashville has demonstrated support for the team after recent postseason trips, and Columbus is a market that was popularly derided just as recently as 2 years ago for not supporting the Blue Jackets. Winnipeg is addressed above; it will be interesting to see if sellouts continue if the Jets continue to muddle around .500 and generally not threaten for the playoffs. Cracks were already showing last year, and we’re now in Year 4 of that 5-year commitment season ticket holders had to sign up for.

  5. gfallar - Aug 11, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    Blah, blah, blah… same old empty collection of the same old words that don’t say anything, really, certainly nothing new. But, as long as people click the link, the stale rehashes of non-information have done their job.

    The new “journalism”.

  6. djshnooks - Aug 11, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    They’ll get Connor McDavid.

    If for nothing other than they have the voodoo doll that is Darcy Regier.

    It will fixed by Bettman, bank on it.

  7. thedoh2014 - Aug 12, 2014 at 2:28 AM

    I’m sorry, was there something new in this story?

    Did the author even make the barest minimal attempt to offer anything fresh?

    The world of blogging has murdered the art of journalism and intelligent opinion pieces.

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