After countless, long-drawn out episodes, it appears as though the drama involving the Phoenix Coyotes has been settled – for now at least.
Glendale City Council met for over three hours before coming to a 4-3 in favour to keep the NHL franchise in town with a 15-year lease worth $225 million. Had council voted the other way, the Coyotes would have most likely relocated to Seattle. But that’s not the case.
In addition to their news of staying put, the Coyotes will follow the same path as the NFL’s Cardinals and drop “Phoenix” to become known as the Arizona Coyotes.
The league-owned franchise, which has been struggling to find stable ownership for what seems like ages, is set to be bought by Renaissance Sports & Entertainment. The group, which has an agreement to purchase the Coyotes from the NHL, is run by Canadian businessmen George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc.
Before the vote on Tuesday, RSE announced a new partnership with Global Spectrum to help run Jobing.com Arena. Global Spectrum is the entity that runs the Philadelphia Flyers.
So, the million-dollar question is: Did the City of Glendale do the right thing by keeping the Coyotes in town?
While the team’s Jobing.com Arena is a beautiful facility that should not go to waste, I am not so crazy about this decision.
Keeping the Coyotes in Arizona does keep the team’s rivalry in tact with the nearby Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks but for a city to approve such a sale for a team that barely draws flies to its games is beyond me.
This agreement comes during a time when the Glendale area is experiencing its own economic hardships including a struggle to keep fire stations open. So, to agree to spent $225 million on a project that generates well below the league’s average in attendance.
To his credit, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has maintained an unwavering hope to make hockey work in Arizona. But even recently, the stubborn Bettman has been skeptic of the NHL’s future in the desert.
Nevertheless, the Coyotes are sticking around and it will be difficult to find anyone in their right mind to make sense of this decision.
I suppose of there is a silver-lining, it’s that the Phoenix – err, Arizona – Coyotes are a very good team despite missing the playoffs this past season. It’s not as if these are the Oakland Seals or Cleveland Barons whose rosters consisted of motley mixes of sub-mediocrity and thus, opponents would treat them nothing more than doormats.
But even with the on-ice product of the Coyotes the way it is, the team isn’t anywhere near the financial productivity they would have liked.
So, while the news of the Coyotes staying doesn’t come with resounding enthusiasm – especially to fans in Seattle – we will have to wait and see how the experiment in the desert continues. Between you and me, though, I don’t expect any vast improvements.
In the words of former NBA all-star Charles Barkley, who once called Phoenix home, “I may be wrong but I doubt it.”