Morning Papers Take: Playing hockey in the desert, Oasis or Mirage?

Posted by David Minuk in Morning Papers take,NHL Morning Papers,Phoenix Coyotes on November 7, 2009 — No Comments

In today’s Western Conference Papers Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic discussed how teams in the valley are losing out to the economy:

Every professional sports team in metro Phoenix, along with Arizona State University’s football team and the annual Fiesta Bowl, has had trouble selling tickets this year as growing unemployment and declining wages are keeping fans home.

Teams have been forced to try promotions once considered unthinkable as the drop in attendance cuts deeper into revenue and costs jobs. For example, the Phoenix Suns saw their 153-game streak of sellouts at US Airways Center end Nov. 1, and a few days later the team laid off about 10 percent of its workforce.

Now I’ve discussed the situation in Phoenix quite a bit.  The revelation that the economy is doing poorly and is adversely affecting sports teams isn’t shocking. However, when you see the really established, popular teams like the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and last year’s Super Bowl finalist Cardinals struggling with attendance woe’s it becomes apparent that the Coyotes, a team that isn’t in the top tier of Arizona sports is not going to have the immediate recovery everyone is expecting.  Sure the NHL “saved” the team from moving but when you consider the state of the economy, the location of the arena and the fact that even after 15 years in the desert, the Coyotes haven’t established themselves as a top tier team in this market it just doesn’t appear likely that the recovery time will be a anytime soon.

In that same article a local Phoenix ticket broker summed up the situation in the desert:

It’s always difficult to scalp tickets in this market when a team is playing poorly, but it’s even tougher now.

“The economy is terrible,” Fettman said. “Even if the team is good, people don’t have the money to go out and spend. . . . .”

Now people might say “too bad”, that they have had plenty of time to develop a base that could support this team, given the metro size of the area.  Some have called fans of the Coyotes fair weather and bandwagon hockey fans but with all of the above factors, coupled with a summer from hell, don’t they deserve some time to recover?  Or is it time to cut the losses and move the team somewhere else? 

Put another way, as the Coyotes continue this trek through the desert, which began in 1996, have they finally come to the Oasis which can sustain them or is this simply another Mirage which casts a false illusion?  If you have an opinion on what should happen to the Coyotes, share it here.