Monday, October 19, 2009

If a Hockey Game Takes Place And No One Is There: Does It Count?

1) We paraphrased the old "If a Tree falls... phrase to illustrate what has now been going on in Phoenix since their first home game. Namely no one is going. Can anyone really blame them? The team is up for sale. Even the NHL (who now controls the team) has almost out right said that short of a BIG concession from the City of Glendale, its all but assured that the team will be allowed to relocate at the start of next season. The whole fiasco that ended a couple of weeks back was more about preventing an unwanted outsider (Jim Balsillie) from getting control of the team as it was from trying to keep it in place in Arizona.

2) Anyone who has seen some of the Ungodly financial numbers can see that even under the best of circumstances the team just can't survive in the desert without significant assistance. Since Glendale isn't in the financial position (who is these days?) to given the team a subsidy (and tax payers aren't happy about it either) its unlikely the team will get that assistance. So we are left with what we dubbed the franchise back in the summer dead-team-walking.

3) Which brings us to the team now. A team that despite a decent start to the season (as we actually foresaw) playing in front of an empty building. After an NHL engineered opening night sell out there have been estimates that fewer than 5000 have been attending their recent home games. The sell out was actually a 'farce' one source told us. In truth they 'sold' less than 10,000 of those seats. The remaining 8 or so thousands were comps distributed(not all used either) to business and groups throughout the Phoenix metro area to give the impression of fan support (not embarrass the league further).

4) Going forward, although October typically is when NHL attendance is at its lowest due to competing options, we can not foresee a significant change in the Phoenix situation. Unless the team suddenly gets a new local owner commited to staying put (about as likely as a conservative Republican winning an election in San Fransico) even the best fans of the Coyotes would/should feel like a spurned lover and stay away. As that source correctly told us: "They are a lame duck team, and everyone knows it!" Exactly, so who spend big bucks to see that? Nice job Mr. Bettman!

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