NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes Could Beat NBA’s Sacramento Kings To Moving Vans
While the NBA’s Kings are poised to play what is expected to be their last game in Sacramento on Wednesday, another major pro team in the West could be on the move.
The NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes could be on the move to Winnipeg, the city they left 15 years ago. According two reports from Canada, the Coyotes will leave their Glendale, Ariz., home after their playoff run is over. the sixth-seeded Coyotes open their first-round series Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings.
Personally, it would be tough to swallow. I was the deputy sports editor at the Arizona Republic and volunteered to direct NHL coverage when the team moved to Phoenix. at times, I felt like the only hockey fan in the newsroom. at games, I felt at home around 16,000 fans like me.
But what has transpired since has left ill will all around Phoenix and a political group all but strong-arming the team out of town.
The fact that the Coyotes could leave the Phoenix area shows the utter insanity about pro sports. the Coyotes moved to Arizona in 1996 after their owners didn’t think they could afford to stay in Winnipeg. They played in America West Arena (now U.S. Airways Arena) for seven seasons despite sitelines that kept fans in one end zone from seeing the nearest goal.
The team thought they had deals in Phoenix and Scottsdale for an adequate arena, but they fell through. then Glendale partnered with then owner Steve Ellman to build one of the nicest facilities in the NHL and a surrounding entertainment complex. the arena has great sitelines from any where you stand — even the concourses.
However, the team has lost money every season in Phoenix and has gone through five owners since the move. the last one left the team in bankruptcy with the NHL buying the team after an extended court battle. Chicago businessman Matt Hulsizer has a deal to buy the team from the league, but a conservative Arizona watchdog group stands in the way. the Goldwater Institute has threatened to sue the City of Glendale if it gives Hulsizer and the Coyotes a new lease at the city-owned Jobing.com Arena because it violates the Arizona constitution. the deal hinges on selling $116 million in bonds to complete the transaction.
That move has bond-rating agencies scared, city officials accusing the Institute of blackmail and split a city over the fate of the team. And, reportedly, the NHL may be so disgusted by the politics that it would sell the team Canadian owners and move it back to Winnipeg, which also has built a new arena.
It would be a shame to see the Coyotes leave. They have revitalized the Westgate area in Glendale — playing next door to the NFL Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium — and taken attention away from the trendier east Valley area of Phoenix. the team is on the upswing, making the playoffs for the second consecutive season with a young roster.
If they have to leave, then it is fitting for them to return to Winnipeg. But no sports franchise and its fans should be held hostage by political threats. That’s exactly why the NHL may say no thanks and take the team to Winnipeg.
In trying to display its political muscle, the Goldwater Institute will alienate its followers. In the process, it will use up its bank account of goodwill.
Oh, and unlike the Kings who badly want a new arena, the Coyotes would walk away from an eight-year-old, state-of-the-art stadium. How’s that for irony?
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