In the past week’s 31 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman spoke to various NHL players around the league. Included in that was Taylor Hall who talked about what it was like being traded during the season, what he thinks of his long-term outlook, and his time in Arizona. Hall spoke well of his time in Arizona, saying:
“The one thing I’ve been pleasantly surprised about was our attendance and support from fans. We’ve had numerous sellouts. I didn’t think it was going to be like that. There’s been nights where the atmosphere has been awesome in the arena.”
Fans should have noticed an increase in attendance, and the numbers support that. While the Arizona Coyotes’ attendance is near the bottom of the league, in both numbers and percentage, it has been steadily improving.
This past season the Coyotes’ average attendance was 14,605, 28th in the league and ahead of the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, and Ottawa Senators. In terms of capacity, they are averaging 85.3%, which is also 28th in the league this season.
Compared to teams who consistently sell out the arenas and average attendance over 100%, 14,605 may not seem like much. But it marks a steady improvement and it is the highest average attendance since the 2008-09 season when Arizona averaged 14,875.
The obvious reason for the increase in attendance is that the Coyotes have improved over the past few seasons. Arizona was close to making the playoffs last season, as well as this season. The Desert Dogs didn’t have the best record going into the suspension, but there is a very real chance they could have turned around and made the post-season for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
An improved team has definitely helped the Coyotes attendance numbers, but the significance of steady ownership shouldn’t be overlooked. Fans no longer have to worry about investing emotional energy in a team that could relocate during the next offseason or seeing free agents walk due to instability.
Stable ownership, especially the new majority owner Alex Meruelo, has also allowed the Coyotes to spend more money. Arizona acquired big-name players like Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall which has helped draw in fans and shows how serious the organization in. Ownership issues have plagued the franchise for years, but hopefully, we have seen the end of them.
With the recent announcement that the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and combine have been postponed, we don’t know what the offseason will look like. Whatever happens though, the Coyotes are going to need to keep improving to keep the momentum going and continue to improve the product on the ice.