The Phoenix Coyotes Have Opportunity to Build Fan Base

Greg EspositoContributor IIJanuary 18, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 14:  Scottie Upshall #8 of the Phoenix Coyotes skates over to congratulate teammate Matthew Lombardi #15 after Lombardi scored a first period goal against the New Jersey Devils during the NHL game at Arena on January 14, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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Phoenix sports fans are depressed.

The Arizona Cardinals’ season is over, the Phoenix Suns are in the midst of a very average year, and baseball season is still months away (although some would argue that’s a good thing).

It all sounds bad, and that’s good for the Phoenix Coyotes .

In a season that started under the cloud of bankruptcy and possible relocation, things are starting to look up for the Coyotes. The team is 12 games over .500, their 61 points are tied for fourth in the Western Conference, they’ve found a coach to lead the franchise, and a spot in the playoffs is a realistic possibility.

The only problem is, fans in Phoenix have yet to embrace them.

If there ever were a time for the Coyotes to make their move and engage the sports fans in the Valley, it is now.

The Cardinals' loss has left a void the Suns seem unlikely to fill. The ‘Yotes, with their roster of young, talented, and motivated players seem to have the right mix to capture the imagination of fans.

If you were here in between 1996 and 2002, you know that it’s possible. During that time the Coyotes had the Valley’s attention. The Phoenix Suns were fairly mundane by their standards, the Arizona Cardinals were the “Arizona Cardinals,” and the Arizona Diamondbacks, at least from 1996-1999, were a non-factor.

Talk of the Coyotes and their playoff “White Outs” dominated the sports talk airwaves in Phoenix.

Attendance at America West Arena, then home of the Coyotes, was strong. You didn’t even have to struggle to find a fan wearing something with a ‘Yotes logo on it. (Which is impressive seeing as their logo looked like something you’d hallucinate while on acid , or so I’m told.)

The Coyotes have a chance to gain back some of that good will. Fans are looking for something compelling to watch and follow. Dave Tippett’s crew fits the bill.

The question is, how can they capitalize?

The answer is something that comes natural in hockey.

Be aggressive.

Team President Doug Moss and the team’s marketing staff has done an admirable job of doing a lot with a little.

They’ve tried things such as shuttles from the East Valley to Arena.

They’ve offered great ticket specials, scheduled a Fanfest, and they even are starting a new advertising campaign on Valley Metro Buses.

It’s a good start and has laid the foundation for success but it’s time to reach fans where they are. The Coyotes need to take a page from the Phoenix Suns and show the team’s personality through social media and other online avenues.

Give the team a fun loving personality, promote some “characters” and the fans will connect.

Embrace the under-desert-dog status. The Valley loves a Cinderella story.

The fans of Phoenix are there for the Coyotes’ taking—it’s just a matter of reaching them.

Some creative PR and continued on-ice success should be enough to get the job done.


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