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From the editor's desk: under new management?

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IceArizona may not be managing Gila River Arena soon. Here's why that may be according to plan.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

As if the Arizona Coyotes and their fans haven't heard enough about arena management already:

On the surface, this looks like the beginnings of yet another spat between IceArizona and the City of Glendale. But this turn of events is neither unexpected or even bad news for the ownership group.

The gist of the problem is that managing Gila River Arena is difficult. The venue is not ideally located in the Valley, and has to compete with the US Airways Center and Ak-Chin Pavilion (formerly Desert Sky Pavilion) and Wells Fargo Arena for events among comparably sized facilities (as well as Chase Field or University of Phoenix Stadium for certain major events).

So not only are their alternative venues in the Valley at roughly the same size, two of the major facilities - USAC and Ak-Chin - are managed by LiveNation, which has massive clout when it comes to booking concerts. So even if Gila River Arena is a nicer venue than US Airways Center, Global Spectrum has struggled to find artists to partner with.

As a result, non-hockey attendance figures fell pretty well short of expectations last year. And, if revenues are falling short of projections, that's one more cost for the ownership group as they continue the Herculean task of turning the Coyotes' finances around.

Both IceArizona and Glendale have anticipated the possibility of a new arena manager, as provisions for changing managers were included in Section 46 of the Arena Lease Amendment document:

the City shall have the option to replace the Arena Manager at any time after June 30, 2016; provided, that the City first delivers notice of such election (the "Arena Management Replacement Notice") not less than ninety (90) days prior to the effective date of the replacement of the Arena Manager.

The fact that procedures for changing the arena manager were included despite the lease's already short term seems to indicate smoke on the horizon with regards to who controls non-hockey events. An additional part of Section 46 may prove to be the fire:

[...]notwithstanding such replacement, the Team Owner shall have the right to generate, collect and retain the Exclusive Arena Manager Revenues attributable to Hockey Events. Team Owner shall have no right to any and all revenues, including surcharges, that are attributable to Non-Hockey events.

To summarize, Glendale and IceArizona agreed to put a provision in their revised contract that allowed the City to find a new arena manager, as well as a provision that allowed IceArizona to retain all revenues from hockey events should Glendale end up finding someone else.

It's almost as if IceArizona knew this was coming, and wanted it to happen.

Thoughts

  • Perhaps one more indicator that IceArizona is fine with relinquishing management of the Arena: virtually zero comment from the organization after Corbett broke the RFP news.
  • Divesting in the arena's operations itself also definitely would make it easier for the Coyotes to pull up and head elsewhere in the Valley should political winds tilt that direction, especially if the City of Phoenix or the Salt River Community included a provision similar to the one I mentioned above.
  • On-ice news! Mikkel Boedker apparently could have been had for five years at $3.2M AAV in 2013, according to Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona.
  • Some player comparables at $3.2 million include Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Justin Williams, Joel Ward, Matt Stajan, and Mason Raymond.
  • Keeping in mind of course that Boedker's best season so far (19 goals and 32 assists in 2013-14) came after the negotiating process, but would taking the risk on Boedker been a worthwhile investment?
  • The one thing the Coyotes do have now is some absurd roster flexibility up front; the Coyotes are the only team in the league to have zero forwards under contract beyond 2017-18 (Toronto technically doesn't either if you exclude the Nathan Horton contract).
  • So Don Maloney may be too conservative when it comes to handing out contracts for some. But that restraint is going to give him (or his successor) a ton of options when it comes to rounding out the Coyotes' forward group in a few years.