I'm so sick and tired of hearing about how the Coyotes are in a non-hockey market, and that "hockey doesn't work in the desert". I'm excited by the news that has come out from the Hulsizer meetings, as maybe finally we will have some closure to this ongoing mess. Many people fail to understand how the news circulating about this team over the past two years has badly hurt the team. Basically, the only marketing that the team could get (and afford) were press releases (which are technically free) about how they were doomed. Not necessarily great for business.
One of the largest expenditures for a business beyond payroll (player salaries) is marketing. The Coyotes have lacked sufficient marketing dollars for years. And yes, even Detroit and Toronto (two "hockey markets") spend a lot of money marketing their franchises. Essentially, a business can run without an owner, but only for so long before it starts to decline. Without proper management of the "inside" of the business/team, the "product" will start to fail.
The Coyotes are kind of an anomaly of sorts. They are succeeding on the ice right now, with one of the smallest payrolls in the NHL (they are scratching the salary floor). They also have a GM and a head coach that have proven to be winners. What the Coyotes are lacking is attendance, and we all know it. Hell, we are told about it after almost every home game. Well what fixes that? Winning. And that fix doesn't correct the problem overnight. It seems that some journalists and bloggers expected the Coyotes attendance woes to be corrected after their exceeding-everyone's-expectations performance last year. Well, it didn't, however attendance is up this year slightly. This all with even less media support and marketing than ever. Do you see the late news covering Coyotes games? Are they ever showcased in the newspaper? This isn't a Phoenix market problem, more than a visibility issue.
Yes, people are smart enough to find the Coyotes schedule online and purchase tickets without a commercial telling them how to do so, or a radio ad, or even seeing ads at other sporting events such as Suns or Cardinals games. However, even the Suns, the bread and butter of the Phoenix sports market, spend countless dollars "selling" their team. Sports franchises are a business, but without having the funds to create more visibility for your team, they will falter.
The Coyotes for the foreseeable future will have a competent and entertaining on-ice product. New ownership will hopefully provide what the Coyotes have lacked since the Moyes days... visibility. Not every fan is a die-hard hockey fan in Chicago, or Detroit, or Toronto, but they enjoy being entertained. I for one would say that the Coyotes were not entertaining on a nightly basis for several years, and I love hockey. How can you expect "fair-weather" fans who make a large portion of attendance in ANY CITY, to root for seemingly last place teams year in and year out (see Cardinals attendance prior to move to Glendale)?
This problem seems to be fixed. They are entertaining, even when they occasionally lose they are still competitive. The seemingly easy quote to use here is... "When you win, they will come". Now its the new owner's job to make sure it happens. Fans are out there... The Chicago Blackhawks averaged around 13,000 fans a game from 2002-2006, and that is an arena that can hold 20,000 plus. I didn't hear any word of that franchise moving during that time. Oh, and look at that, their attendance went up in 2007 to around 16,000, and again in 2008 to 20,000. They got a franchise player, and they started playing competitive. The attendance gains were not overnight, but they happened.
The point of this rant is simply that I wish journalists and bloggers would look at the bigger picture. The Coyotes are a business and by the looks of their on-ice product, it won't be long until business (in Phoenix) is a boomin... Sorry Winnipeg.