Bettman’s Hopeless Charge

Posted: October 22, 2010 by goaliesgetmorebetches in Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes
Tags: ,

I’m not going to talk much about tonight’s Kings’ game, because frankly there wasn’t much to talk about. Kings’ played a crap first period, and made a major blunder on a second period PP, and were still in the game against the NHL’s pet team. So we’re not going to be 81-1 now. I’m not gonna lose much sleep.

If you watched the game on TV, you had to notice that the Arena was EMPTY. Announced attendance was 6,706 in Arizona tonight. This Arena looked like that most of last season too – and the season before that, and the season before that…

With the Coyotes ownership in flux, Gary Bettman and the NHL have been insistent upon keeping the team – that is hemorrhaging money eternally it seems – in Arizona. Seeing that many empty seats, with a decent product on the ice makes it clear what a lost cause this is. Why would any investor with any smarts put up money for a team that can’t sell more than 6,706 seats for a game against one of the most exciting young teams in the NHL, and a division rival at that. Even at the team’s absolute WORST, we’ve more than doubled that on Average in Los Angeles – a city where there are more entertainment choices than Phoenix by far. You can’t tell me that Winninpeg (the team’s former home), Quebec City or Hamilton, Ontario can’t put more than 6,700 asses in seats for games.

There is no evidence that the Coyotes can be a financially viable operation in Phoenix. There are a few thousand die hard hockey fans (to their credit that’s a few thousand more than Anaheim has) and the rest of the area seems apathetic, at least when it comes to buying tickets. They’ve got a state of the art arena and surrounding plaza that some teams would kill for, and for the moment anyway, a competitive team – and said arena is still a ghost town.

The NHL’s insistance that the Coyotes must stay in Phoenix is all about Gary Bettman’s ego. Bettman made the controversial decision to move the Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix in 1996, much to the chagrin of Jets fans that surely outnumber the crowd in Glendale these days. That decision has been a financial disaster from the outset, and unless something changes drastically, seems destined to remain that way. The team could be more financially viable in any of the afforementioned Canadian markets, both for it’s ownership and the league, but Bettman is determined to ride Phoenix out until the wheels fall off. Bettman still wrongly believes he can dumb down the game enough to sell it to the same crowd that buys tickets to NFL and NBA games. Some sports fans will always cross over, but hockey is a niche sport who’s understanding requires a depth and breadth that the average sports fan, quite frankly lacks (yes, I realize that does sound a bit arrogant). At some point though, Bettman will be forced to admit that his “southernization” movement hasn’t been the success he’d hoped. Atlanta and Florida are empty much like Phoenix most nights. Expansion and relocation to many of the wrong places, too fast, is the culprit.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sympathetic to the die hards in Phoenix as well as those in other markets where ticket sales are meager. There’s nothing quite like NHL hockey, and to a hardcore fan, nothing else will do. From a financial standpoint though, I’ve yet to see any evidence that it can be made to work.

The few in Arizona will have some months to try to sell the game to their peers. If they’re fortunate, the team will remain competitive and that might help a bit. In the end though, any potential owner that agrees to leave the Coyotes in Phoenix for an extended period of time is committing financial suicide. As a community of hockey fans as a whole, we can hope that Gary Bettman can set his ego aside, cut bait and give up on the “southernization” of hockey before he runs the NHL into irrelevance.

  1. MichelleJ says:

    Yeah, it did look very empty last night. Even BizNasty says so:

    “morning folks. Guess we actually had more then 5000 fans for our game. Didn’t realize it was dress like a seat night. Close to a sell out.”

    It’s kinda sad.

  2. Dan MacNeal says:

    And this was a night after Columbus drew 9800 and Atlanta drew 8800

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