Tuesday will mark the one year anniversary of a date that Coyotes fans will remember for a long time. On August 5, 2013, the almost five year long ownership saga ended when NHL Commissioner Garry Bettman took to the media room podium at Jobing.com Arena. One year ago today, Bettman introduced Coyotes Co-Owner, Chairman and Governor George Gosbee, as well as other members of IceArizona, as the brand new owners of the then Phoenix Coyotes.
They made their splash a month earlier, however, on the first day of NHL free agency with the signing of center Mike Ribiero. This was the first sign to a weary fanbase that IceArizona wasn’t messing around and that they were serious about making the Coyotes a perennial title contender. Ribiero is now a Nashville Predator and in a tenure that began with such a spash, it may feel to some as though the Coyotes are back to square one.
The buyout of Mike Ribiero’s contract on July 1st it serves as an interesting bookend to the first year of the Coyotes new ownership group. There were ups and downs to year one, but was it a good start- and fans can look at the past year as a road map for the next several seasons.
The Coyotes rode the wave of fan excitement into the 2013-2014 season which saw the Coyotes reach several big milestones. By the end of the season, the Coyotes had set a new franchise record in season ticket revenue, surpassing a record untouched since 1997.
Today the #Coyotes broke our overall regular season ticket revenue record, which has stood since 1997. Thank you to all of our loyal fans.
— Anthony LeBlanc (@anthonydleblanc) March 24, 2014
In addition to that, the Coyotes set new franchise records for single game revenue three separate times; Nov. 30 against Chicago,Feb. 1 against Pittsburgh, and March 22 against Boston. All three were sellouts- of which the Coyotes saw seven in ‘13-14.
Part of the increased revenue could be chalked up to increased ticket prices, but it’s also a possibility that the arrival of Tim Horton’s to Arizona had something to do with it. Its arrival was probably one of the most popular additions to the fan experience in Glendale. It was so popular, in fact, that they are planning on expanding the presence of the Canadian mainstay at Jobing.com Arena next season. Not surprising, considering a simple walk around the concourse during a crowded game was made even worse by the expanse of people standing in line for some delicious Timbits and a cup of coffee.
Another example of IceArizona using their smarts to help create a cool fan experience came to fruitition one terrific Saturday night just prior to the Olympic break. In front of 17,000 plus, the Coyotes welcomed one of the best known hockey teams of all time. Those in attendance were able to bear witness to a ceremony honoring members of the 1980 “miracle on ice” team that captured the nation’s heart while on the road to gold at Lake Placid.
The Coyotes saw quite a bit of success when the bigger teams came to town (thanks to the newly adopted NHL schedule), but did struggle at times with attendance. Many fans will remember the disaster that was a home game on Halloween night, which saw an announced attendance of just 7,401 according to hockeyattendance.com.
However, that was a low point. The 2013-2014 season saw attendance down from the lockout-shortened season, but up from the last full season of hockey in 2011-2012- impressive, considering that season saw the Coyotes reach the Western Conference final.
IceArizona clearly had an impact on attendance this past season. People felt like they could actually invest their time, hopes, and money on a team they knew was staying for good. Hopefully, with a better team on the ice next season, these numbers will rise even more.
Attendance is just the beginning of IceArizona’s impact on the financial side of things. We’ll take a look at the other impacts tomorrow- so tune in!
Tags: Ice Arizona