DALLAS TX - FEBRUARY 09: Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Phoenix Coyotes before a game against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center in Dallas Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
When you're in 5th place in the Western Conference, you'd expect decent crowds, right? Not at Jobing.com Arena, where the Phoenix Coyotes exist in relative anonymity.
In Phoenix, there are two teams that consistently draw good crowds: the Arizona Cardinals and the Phoenix Suns. The three teams that struggle to bring in sell outs are the Phoenix Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Arizona St. Sun Devils football team.
Since each of these teams play in different seasons, it's easy to mentally separate the three and blame factors such as commute distance, ticket costs, and poor on-field product. But what happens when you lump them all together? The story is a little more interesting, and paints a dark picture of the average sports fan in this city.
A reported figure of 9,508 observers took in the game Monday night between the Coyotes and the storied Colorado Avalanche. The 'Yotes put on a defensive clinic, shutting down the Avs attack and putting up a 3-0 shutout behind the 26-save performance of Ilya Bryzgalov. But when your arena has a capacity of 17,125 and you're barely filling 55% of the seats against a regional rival, there is a huge issue.
The Coyotes, Diamondbacks, and Sun Devils are spread all across the valley, yet the travel distance excuse is used for all of them when you break down their attendance issues. Do you think that every single NHL fan is located in Chandler? That Sun Devils fans solely live out in Surprise? Do Diamondbacks followers only live in Apache Junction? It just isn't possible, and it's an excuse that needs to disappear.
There was an impressive crowd of 14,587 on hand Saturday evening to watch the 'Yotes defeat the Minnesota Wild 1-0. I would commend this crowd, but it was one of the "Buck Bash" nights, where beer, soda and hot dogs were all on sale for a dollar. The team also gave out a blanket to every fan - and they still didn't sell out. When you take that into consideration, can we really still be pleased with that attendance figure?
As a city, we collectively do a very poor job of supporting the franchises that call Arizona home. The Coyotes are currently in fifth place in the Western Conference, but the lack of crowd and quiet atmosphere at Jobing.com Arena give it the aura of an exhibition hockey match rather than the stretch run of the NHL season. Who is to blame? In the end, we must look within for answers.
Do you want hockey to exist in Glendale in the years to come? If you do, then head out to the games and have a good time. If you don't, please send correspondence to the Glendale City Council. Tell them you're not interested, because you're not doing anyone any favors otherwise.
The city is planning on spending a fortune to keep them here, using municipal bonds and taxpayer funds to subsidize this currently failing business. This is America! Exert your power of free speech! Open your bifold and pay for tickets! Send a scathing email to the mayor! But doing nothing is no longer an option, not when there's so much at stake.
To contact the Glendale City Council, click on this link. Provided within are email addresses and phone numbers where you can either lend your support or voice your concerns. These people are agents of the population which they represent, and will listen to your voice.