So, the Arizona Coyotes are going back to school. What exactly do I mean? Starting in the 2022-2023 season, the Yotes will call Arizona State’s new multi-purpose indoor facility home. The recently renovated venue was meant for ASU hockey and other ASU events. Now they will host an NHL team for at least three years. If you’ve ever watched or listened to my podcast, Wave Lengths, you know that I’ve made Arizona my second sports home. The desert is a great place for sports. The ice, however, is tricky for the organization to figure out, but I have some ideas.
Arizona Coyotes- How We Got Here
In December, a report came out that the Coyotes were behind on paying rent. The Gila River Arena and the city of Glendale then claimed that the team owed over a million dollars. These claims wound up being true. The Coyotes paid and hoped all would be forgiven. It wasn’t. Glendale then told the Coyotes they have to be out by the end of the season. Glendale then stepped in and chose not to renew their operating agreement with the Gila River Arena, leaving the Yotes without an arena. They tried working out a deal, but there never was going to be one. 2021-2022 wound up being a lame-duck season in Glendale for Arizona, now they needed a new arena.
We’re Moving In!
I’m not sure how many of you have step-parents. But this arrangement seems similar to that. The Coyotes are like your mom’s friend Gary, Gary seems cool when he comes over, then he leaves, and it’s cool. Now ASU (you and your mom), moved into a new place, got some new appliances, can’t wait to discover your new home, and before you get too comfortable, Mom says. “Hey, you know my friend Gary? He’s moving in with us!” What you thought was your new house, is now going to be inhabited by a bigger, more rough, underperforming, grown-up man.
Having the Coyotes around should be cool for the college guys in theory, but now two sets of teams feel like they don’t have a real home. The Arizona Coyotes go from an arena that’s hosted UFC PPV’s, and major concerts, to a 5,000 seat arena, that was meant for a college team. If you’re an ASU hockey player, your new arena was supposed to be a part of your college experience. Now someone else’s stuff will constantly be in your way, and it will never be your home until the Coyotes leave. Hopefully, the new step-siblings can get along, and it’s a happy marriage.
How It Can Work
Not that they have in the past, but the Coyotes CANNOT reinvent the wheel here. All the jokes online have been, “maybe now they can sell out a game”. While it’s mean, it’s true. Since moving to Glendale, the attendance numbers are down. So, for the Arizona Coyotes, they need to do a few crucial things for this situation to suck a little less. Number one, embrace that you’re on a college campus. You can’t upcharge tickets cause you can’t seat the same amount. Treat the NHL team like a college team. Get the kids in droves, and in cheap.
Another good way, that can and has worked. Embrace the smallness, and run the arena like a minor league baseball team. Sell cheaper concessions. You’re not going to make anywhere near the same amount of money as you would in your current home. Do the dollar hot dogs, have the beer specials, make this something everyone wants to bring the family to. That way you don’t hear the emptiness, and you can start to rebuild the fanbase. Go back to old school ways, get the kids, the students, and everyone in the area hooked, and have them follow you to the hopefully new arena in Tempe.
Will this work for the Arizona Coyotes?
I want it to very badly, but I could also see this being a disaster just as easily. If the Coyotes buy into playing on a college campus and are receptive to being a local entertainment, it will. If they treat ASU’s campus poorly and think of themselves as above this, then no. As long as the team puts out a squad, that gets it won’t be glamorous for a little while, I like this plan. Let’s hope Clayton Keller and the boys can get behind their new home and sneak into the dance a couple of times. If they can get the place filled up with some local diehards, it’ll be a good old-fashioned college barn atmosphere.