Finally, mercifully, the four-year saga of the Phoenix Coyotes has come to an end. And the team’s staying here in Glendale.
Last night, the Glendale City Council voted 4-3 to approve a new lease with Renaissance Sports and Entertainment.
The terms of the lease aren’t perfect. Among other things, RSE can opt out in five years if it loses $50 million. Realistically, that would be hard to do if the group actually markets the team – that hasn’t happened in four years. But, with the way the world seems to work and with how easily numbers can be manipulated, this could turn out to be a five-year band-aid solution.
Which still is better than what exists now.
As I wrote the other day, the Coyotes are the key to the survival of the Westgate City Center. What I didn’t say, while listing the vast open months of dates that haven’t been booked because no one’s running the show, is bringing in a real arena manager will help bring Jobing.Com Arena back to life.
In the past, Neil Diamond, KISS, Brittany Spears and countless others have played at the Arena since it’s 2003 opening. This year? Taylor Swift. And after a concert this month, crickets until next January.
Someone needs to be driving the bus. RSE will do that.
As expected, our wonderfully clueless major, Jerry Weiers, spoke against the deal because in his world 41 dates magically will get booked and fill the arena more than the Coyotes can. I don’t know what city staff tells him, or if he listens, but there’s a great deal of common sense missing. He also was kind enough to tie the Coyotes to layoffs in first responders, a fairly transparent political lie meant to incite fear.
Seriously, Mr. Mayor … you think laying off firemen in the future and saying it’s this deal’s fault is going to fly with voters? Enjoy your single term.
Another council member, Norma Alvarez, said it’s a sad day when a city puts a sports team ahead “of the kids.” Not sure how that’s happening, to be honest, but it always makes for a quotable sound bite when you bring up children.
Then there were the Twitter keyboard commandos, most located in cities other than Glendale and states other than Arizona, who apparently are experts in Glendale’s city finances because they read Internet reports and suddenly are extremely concerned about what happens if someone calls 911.
It’s the same line of biased information that’s been published since Jerry Moyes took the team into bankruptcy four years ago.
You hear often of the attendance woes at Jobing.Com Arena, as if there shouldn’t be an issue with attendance when the team’s constantly in limbo.
Here are the numbers from HockeyDB.com. The first year in Glendale was 2003-04 …
Former Coyotes wing Jeremy Roenick often has said Glendale is in the middle of nowhere (probably because he liked the Scottsdale nightlife.) Yet attendance increased when the team moved from America West Arena to Jobing.Com.
In fact, it remained around the 15,000 mark – roughly 90 percent of capacity – until 2009-10, when it wasn’t clear whether the Coyotes would be here until a few weeks before the start of the season. When the season started, there was virtually no advertising on the end boards and sponsorship on only one of the two Zambonis. Season tickets numbers around 2,000 or so because they hadn’t been sold.
This past season, with what turned out to be the false hope of Greg Jamison’s bid to purchase the team and despite missing the playoffs, the Coyotes posted their highest attendance since the pre-bankruptcy days.
Imagine what will happen when the team’s marketed properly and fans know they’re cheering for a team that will be here the year after.
Give it time, and the Coyotes can be successful here. Even if that time period’s only five years.