As much as ownership situations are often plagued by misdirection, misinformation and mystery, there aren’t many that have dragged on as long as the Phoenix Coyotes fiasco. Joe accurately pegged it at four years, but when you consider the effects of the modern Internet-prompted news cycle, it feels like this story has been around for a generation.
Most of the recent news/scuttlebutt related to the Coyotes’ ownership woes hasn’t been particularly promising. Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs recently discussed what life would be like if the city was saddled with Jobing.com Arena but no major professional sports teams. Matt Hulsizer – far and away the franchise’s brightest hope for a possible new owner – finally got fed up with all the red tape and dropped his bid to own the Coyotes in late June, possibly focusing on buying the St. Louis Blues instead. After making the playoffs for the past two seasons, the Coyotes might have some worries on the ice as well given the departure of much-leaned-upon netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.
Despite all this negativity, the Coyotes have some reason to keep their heads held high. The cash-strapped franchise might have allowed Bryzgalov to flee, but they managed the underrated task of retaining their underrated star defenseman Keith Yandle. The best news might be at the box office, though: the Arizona Republic passes along a report that the Coyotes sold 1,000 new season ticket packages as of July 1, a boost that ranks them fifth overall in the NHL.
Naturally, there might be a few caveats to that announcement. For one thing, the top five accolade is a little misleading since many of the league’s most successful teams don’t need to sell that many extra season tickets. In addition to that asterisk, there are probably some snarky types who will say that the Coyotes’ 2010-11 sales were so close to the bottom of the barrel that 1,000 more season ticket packages isn’t as impressive as it might sound.
With those “Yeah, but … ” statements in mind, there was another promising improvement: that Arizona Republic story also reveals that the renewal rate for season tickets is at 90 percent, a Coyotes franchise record. Even if you say that 90 percent of a mediocre amount of tickets is a small victory, it’s still a promising development for a franchise that has been browbeaten by bad news for years now.
If nothing else, this development might help the team drum up some interest from a potential owner once again. The Coyotes have been a fairly successful squad the last two years, but they still haven’t won a playoff series in a long time. One can imagine them developing a solidly reinvigorated fan base if they manage more substantial playoff runs … especially if fans know that the team will still be there the following season.