Could NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman finally be ready to begin the move to get the Arizona Coyotes out of the desert?
Gary Bettman loves hockey in the desert. While that’s great for him, most hockey fans don’t. For whatever reason the long-time NHL commissioner has had a soft spot in his heart for the Phoenix/Arizona Coyote franchise. He believed it helped spread the game of hockey, and he threw vast sums of money to keep the franchise alive when most other sports leagues would have shut them down.
But it seems that Bettman may finally be tiring of his ‘hockey in the desert’ program. In a letter to Arizona legislators, Bettman decided to dig in his heels and tell the state of Arizona that the Coyotes ‘need a new arena or else’.
If you’ve been a faithful follower of Causeway Crowd, you know I am not a fan of the Coyotes. Not because of the players or their ugly record. My distaste for the Coyotes organization is due to the frightening amount of money that has been thrown away in order to keep this boondoggle alive. (The league has already sunk half a billion dollars into the Arizona franchise, and very little has changed.)
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I feel bad enough for my friends who are Maple Leafs fans. They spend $200 for nosebleed seats only to watch their team struggle for mediocrity. Now they’ll probably have to pay even more so that Gary Bettman can continue to have his dream of multiple hockey teams in the desert.
For all the frustration that Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has piled on us, he’s never asked us to put up with an extended run of poor management choices and financial disasters. (If he had, we’d all be paying Maple Leafs prices for tickets, and drinking $20 beers at the TD Garden.)
If the Coyotes financial mess can’t be sorted out, it won’t be outside the realm of reason to see yet another ticket price hike at the Garden. Not because we’re looking at a Cup contending team, not because the Bruins are one of the best teams in the NHL, but because Jacobs will need to make a few more dollars. That way he can send that cash to Arizona as part of the revenue share plan.
Out of frustration, the NHL commissioner penned a letter to Steve Yarbrough (President of the Arizona Senate)and J.D. Mesnard (Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives). While expressing that the greater Phoenix area is still a strong hockey market, he urged for some changes.
“Let me abundantly clear:,” wrote Bettman. “The Coyotes’ current location in Glendale at the Gila River Arena is not economically capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise. For the past 15 years, a succession of ownership groups and the League have tried everything imaginable to make the Glendale location financially sustainable. Our combined efforts all have yielded the same result – a consistent economic loss.
“The simple truth? The Arizona Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed. The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale.”
At this point, it’s almost safe to say that the Battleship Arizona is more structurally sound than the hockey franchise.
If you care to read the entire letter, just click here.
The rest of the letter goes on how Bettman would like the House and Senate leaders to support SB1149, the bill that will help the Coyotes franchise get a new stadium. If not, Gary Bettman might actually pull the plug on Arizona hockey.
Sadly, it won’t be soon enough.
All possible options. It took them 15 years to realize this was a bad idea in the first place. So if nothing gets done, we can expect the league to put up with several more years of failure and loss before the make the move out of Arizona.
From what I’ve heard, the Videotron Centre is quite lovely. Perhaps the commissioner can correct a previous oversight and send the franchise to Quebec City. They’ll appreciate a hockey club an awful lot more than the people of Arizona will.