Arizona has never really been known as the ideal place to come for hockey. However, this summer, USA hockey reported a 17 percent increase in registered players. This put Arizona in third for the most new registered players.
Part of this growth has undoubtedly been attributed to the new- found ownership stability that Ice Arizona has brought to the state’s NHL team. Yet, with the current “Open Meeting Violation” looming in the back of everyone’s minds, it’s safe to say that some may be skeptical of such stability.
This, in turn, could make the new- and much appreciated- fans want to jump off the bandwagon.
According to the Arizona Republic, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers presented email evidence that enraged 20 Glendale residents and asked for an investigation. However, many other parts of this story haven’t been taken into account.
First off, is the fact that from the beginning, Mayor Weiers had made it abundantly clear that he was against the lease from the start. Although the voting took place in November of 2012- and the current Mayor did not take office until January of 2013- Weiers was vocal in his plans not to support the lease agreement, should the deal fall through when voted on the first time around. This was an abrupt sharp left from the Mayor at the time, Elaine Scruggs, who had purportedly been in support of the team during her tenure.
Second, those who have more heavily researched the situation seem almost certain that Weiers just brought this up in retaliation for the counsel voting in favor of a casino at 101 and Northern.
Third, if the Coyotes were to vacate from West Gate, many small businesses would be in jeopardy. Not to mention Tanger Outlets, which was only built a year and a half ago. The Coyotes’ 41 regular season home games and two preseason home games bring in a large amount of traffic to these businesses.
Lastly, I’ve done some solo sleuthing- and it seems that the hockey community in Arizona is way too strong and passionate about the sport to just let the Coyotes go.
When the city council meeting took place, hockey fans and business owners alike gathered to give their pleas for why the team should stay. Supporters came in wearing jerseys and gave speeches. It was an overwhelming statement that the team has roots here, and that they’re stronger than ever.
Many of these fans standing their ground are also contributors to the youth hockey scene in Arizona. This is likely because having a pro team is vital to the survival of a sport that is swiftly evolving, like hockey is in Arizona.
As Mission AZ Ice Coach Jeremy Goltz said when asked how crucial a pro team is to youth hockey’s progression:
“Pro sports are the ultimate marketer of each sport, not to mention all the ‘Kids First’ and ‘Learn to Skate grass root’ programs would no longer be funded nor have the Coyote name. It is a proven fact that pro teams create a wider fan base by starting grass root programs. Two great examples are the LA KINGs and the Gretzky influence in southern California, and the Dallas Stars where youth hockey multiplied by 1000’s with a successful franchise. No pro hockey, no exposure to kids who are looking for a sport and a hero to latch on to.”