Yesterday it was announced that the Arizona Coyotes and the City of Glendale had reached a new arena deal agreement. As everyone knows the City of Glendale City Council voted back in June to terminate the contract. This essentially left the Coyotes with no where to play. The team filed suit against the city, and was granted a temporary restraining order to keep the agreement in place.
There has not been many details on the agreement released. What we do now is the City of Glendale will pay the Coyotes $6.5 million to manage the arena instead of $15 million, but the team gets to keep more of the hockey related revenue, such as parking, service fees, and naming rights.
I think this is a good and bad thing for the NHL. I think it is good because I feel it is important not only to the NHL, but for USA Hockey to have a team in Phoenix market. In USA Hockey’s 2013-2014 membership report Arizona had 4,860 player memberships. There are more hockey players in Arizona than Vermont (4,756), BostonPucks home state, and Rhode Island (4,621). These numbers are peanuts compared to hockey hotbed states like Massachusetts (48,074) and Minnesota (54,507), but I think it is important to grow the sport.
Auston Matthews, who is potentially next year’s number one overall pick in the NHL draft is from Scottsdale, AZ. Also, this upcoming college hockey season will see Arizona State enter NCAA Division I as an independent. Both of these will be huge wins for the state of Arizona hockey.
However, I think it is bad because now the Coyotes are staying in Glendale. Glendale is northwest from the City of Phoenix. I was really hoping that this would open the door for the Coyotes to move back to downtown Phoenix. I have had a conversation with someone who lives in Chandler (southeast of Phoenix), who’s children play hockey regarding this. He told me that it is almost impossible to get to weekday games because by the time you get out of work and fight the traffic you cannot get there for the puck drop. It would make the most sense to have the arena downtown, which is more centrally located.
The current deal keeps the Coyotes in Glendale for at least another 2 years, so hopefully in 2 years the Coyotes will move back to downtown Phoenix and keep growing the game of hockey in the desert.