This might be an age-old debate. It might not. But with the future of the Phoenix Coyotes at stake, it has been a question that has been constantly weighing on my mind for a minimum of six years now.
Many Phoenix sports fans know the location of major league sports facilities across the region. Throw in the major college venues if you like, too. My question is... Had the Coyotes still been playing in downtown Phoenix, would it have made a difference? Would that have had an effect in possibly avoiding Chapter 11 bankruptcy?
I don't hear this discussed much if at all by the media and the fans these days. So I bring up some background to this.
I live in the New York City metropolitan area and some might wonder how I know about this stuff. It does help I have family connections to Phoenix and it is the out-of-town place I have been to the most in my life. Therefore, I began rooting for the Phoenix Suns and later of course the Phoenix Coyotes as out-of-town teams of mine.
Anyway, so before the Coyotes ever arrived in Arizona, US Airways Center (originally America West Arena) was built in downtown Phoenix to be the Suns' new home. It replaced the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum (which still stands, by the way) in 1992. Here was the biggest mistake of all when the plans were drawn up. Hockey was never figured into the design plans. It was just built for the Suns as a basketball venue. Four years later, that's when the Winnipeg Jets were relocated to Phoenix and the only major league facility that could financially host them was US Airways Center.
But the problem was as many Coyotes fans know, about 2,000 to 3,000 obstructed seats in the upper levels of the north end of the arena. The highest level seating sections only could see the opposite end of the ice.
At the same time, another problem for the Coyotes was a reason for why they wanted to build their own home. They were a tenant for then-Suns owner Jerry Colangelo and didn't make money on the luxury suites and I believe the parking fees surrounding the arena. In other words, the Coyotes were treated like a second class citizen.
So the team looked for a new place in the Greater Phoenix Area to play. First it was the Los Arcos Mall site in Scottsdale, about 10 miles east of downtown Phoenix. Nearly all the major hurdles to get approval for the arena project where cleared, but in the end, Scottsdale residents did pass the final referendum to give it the green light. So then it turned to Glendale and the rest is history leading to today.
Another question I have is... Had the city of Phoenix, the Suns and the Coyotes come together to either do extensive renovations to US Airways Center to retrofit it properly for NHL hockey or rebuild a new arena altogether on the site, would this have made a serious impact on the viability of the present-day Coyotes?
The problem is, it's all a moot point about arena location because the Coyotes play at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale and that won't change anytime soon should the team get to stay put.