With Judge Redfield T. Baum ruling in favor of the NHL and the Phoenix Coyotes, the team’s immediate future in Glendale is secure. Just because the team is staying though doesn’t mean their work is done.
In order for the Yotes to become a viable NHL franchise they need to change the way the team is run on and off the ice. With every rebuilding project you need a blueprint and we decided to make one for the Coyotes front office. It includes six areas that the team needs to focus on to connect with its current fanbase and reach new fans.
This is easier said than done, as many know. Without a winning product on the ice, though, the Coyotes will never be able to draw the kind of fanbase needed to sustain this franchise.
If the team were a perennial playoff contender and the White Out were a staple in the Phoenix sporting calendar, fans would make the trek to Glendale regardless of what zip code they called home. If you don’t believe it, just take a look at the history of the Phoenix Suns and what a winning tradition can do.
Keep getting the kids of Phoenix involved in hockey in any way possible. Whether it’s having Wayne Gretzky hold a youth hockey camp or the team sending players out to different leagues to mingle with the kids or do ceremonial puck drops, especially in the East Valley.
If the team can build a core group of young fans that love the Coyotes and support them fully then the foundation for the future of hockey in the greater Phoenix area will be set.
On top of that they should offer discounted season tickets to all the parents of youth hockey players in the Valley. If the kids want to go and the tickets are cheap enough parents will have a tough time making excuses.
The team needs to get creative in how to attract the attention of the none conventional hockey fans that fill this market and regain the attention of East Valley hockey fans.
Special “East Valley” ticket promotions would be a big selling point. Offering the East Valley pack that includes opening night and every Friday/Saturday game plus a $300 gas card (possibly provided by a marketing partnership with a local gas station) would help negate the “it costs too much to drive from (fill in East Valley city) to Glendale” argument and the argument that it’s just too tough to go out to Glendale during the work week for those fans.
Selling general admission tickets to weekday game would help to attract new fans and bring back old ones. For $30 fans could choose any seat in the lower bowl. First come, first serve. That could give the most rabid Coyotes fans a chance to sit on the glass and make for an interesting atmosphere in Jobing.com arena.
Find a personality on the team and promote the heck out of him.
The Phoenix Suns managed to turn a career benchwarmer into a fan phenomenon this past season with little to know effort. They used Lou Amundson’s look and personality to make him a star in the Valley.
If the Coyotes aren’t going to have a “big name” like a Jeremy Roenick they have to get creative in how they connect the fans to certain players. If you can get the fans to love the players and truly be interested in them you can expect them to show up to the games.
Creating an entertaining environment that includes more than what takes place on the ice is important too.
Take a page from minor league sports and do crazy theme nights. Bring back the pack dancers. Every guy enjoys a beautiful woman at a sporting event.
What about post game concerts? It seems to have helped the Diamondbacks draw a decent crowd. The logistics may be difficult with ice but there has got to be somewhere in Westgate that could host it.
Try anything and everything that could resonate with the casual fan to motivate them on a Tuesday night, or any night, to head out to the arena.
Professional sports franchises need television contracts to help gain exposure in their market. It is much easier to get a person to watch a game for free on TV and become a fan than it is to convince him to come to a game without having seen the product.
The Coyotes' current television home on AZTV doesn’t have the reach that other outlets would provide the team. It also doesn’t offer game broadcasts in HD, which many industry insiders feel brings a new depth to televised hockey that standard definition lacks.
If the team could secure a partner, or possibly expand their offerings on FSN Arizona, that could provide them wider reach and the ability to show games in HD, they could see a distinct benefit in sales in the future.
This doesn’t mean the team should let everyone know everything they plan to do, but giving fans and media more access to the inner workings of the team would help to form a stronger bond with the city.
Fans should be able to easily email or call Doug Moss or other team officials to share ideas, ask questions, or express concerns. On top of that, team officials and players should be at any event willing to have them.
When the Coyotes originally came to the Valley this was a mainstay of their community outreach. The more people can get to know the players and connect with them and the organization's front office on a personal level, the stronger dedication they will feel.
If the Coyotes can change the way they operate in these key areas hockey in the desert can start to become viable and it will give the team a base from which to build up to profitability. It won’t fix everything but they have to start somewhere.
Judge Baum’s ruling gave the Coyotes a second chance; now it’s time to do something with it.