The Phoenix Coyotes are playing pretty well and finally have an ownership group in place, but attendance remains an issue. Team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc acknowledged as much to the Arizona Republic on Tuesday.
“I’m probably a little disappointed in where we are with attendance,” LeBlanc said. “There are those marquee games like the Chicago game, which was obviously a very big night for us from the perspective that we broke the regular-season franchise record for gate revenue for a single game. But (two weeks ago), we had the Islanders and Carolina in town and there was roughly 10,000, 11,000 people in the building, and that’s simply not good enough. So we know those are the nights we have a lot of work to do.”
On the other hand, LeBlanc (pictured to the left of Gary Bettman) found optimism in certain areas, including drawing an upcoming sellout against the Sharks; he noted that previous home contests against San Jose didn’t draw the same level of interest.
“There are some positives, but there’s a lot more work,” LeBlanc said. “We need stronger support.”
Perhaps getting into the outdoor games mix might help?
“We’re looking at a number of different opportunities,” LeBlanc said. “We think the outdoor game based off what the league is doing this year in Los Angeles, the fact that there’s a dome game in Vancouver and that the New York games are tied around the Super Bowl, we think there’s some pretty interesting synergy for next season … But there are a number of other things we can do that we think are more in our control to grow the sport in the region.”
In the meantime, the best way to gradually increase support is probably to remain competitive in the tough Western Conference.
For more on how LeBlanc thinks the Coyotes can drum up interest – including Shane Doan’s efforts to bolster the area’s youth hockey movement – read the full story.