Everyone wants to point their fingers in blame at the Coyotes fan base for the current plight of the franchise. I’m not going to say that it isn’t partially the fault of those who don’t bother to come to games, but I will say that several people can share the blame for the team’s current situation. At this point it’s too late to go back and attempt to fix those wrongs. What we can do however, is hope for the opportunity to keep our team. Should we be granted that opportunity, it will become our mission to strengthen the fan base so that we never find ourselves in this position again. We love our team, we want to keep them. It’s past time for Coyotes fans to step up and band together. Not just during the trial, not just next season; forever.
If the NHL wins the relocation battle on June 9th, buy season tickets. I know that isn’t possible for everyone but if it is an idea you’ve been tossing around in your head for some time, now is the time to act upon it. Can’t afford full season tickets? The Coyotes have great ticket packages. Choose the games you want to come to. Can’t make it to the arena during the week? We have a weekend game almost every weekend, come to those. We are SO LUCKY as fans to have this beautiful arena to watch our NHL team play in. Compared to the other NHL cities, our parking and traffic issues (or should I say non-issues?) are a walk in the park. Westgate is full of fun and exciting things to do before and after games, take advantage of it. Game days can be family events. It’s time to weave our hockey team into the fabric of our family traditions. It’s time for the world to know that Phoenix IS a hockey town!
Now, that having been said there are a few other issues I’d like to address. People have been quick to say that we don’t deserve an NHL team and Hamilton (or Winnipeg or Kansas City… etc) are much more deserving of our team than we are. I don't care to feed into the Canada vs America issue some are trying to make this battle into. I personally say one hockey fan is no better than another. We are all fans of the greatest sport ever played. Just because I walk out of Jobing.com Arena and into 70 degree weather doesn't make Phoenix any less of a hockey market.
There are some issues that can’t be ignored about why a team in Hamilton might not work.
To understand why an NHL team might not work in Hamilton, you don’t have to look much farther than their AHL team; the Hamilton Bulldogs. The Bulldogs saw an average attendance of 4,624 people per game this past season. In an arena of allegedly 17,500 seats, that’s not exactly an impressive turn out. To me this says that they will not have the ability to support an NHL team in the long run. Initially, interest will be high and they may see a season of prosperity or two. However, once the novelty wears off, attendance will start to lag. Even more so if the team continues to lose. One could logically assume that if Hamilton were such a “hockey starved market”, the Hamilton Bulldogs would sell significantly more tickets to home games. Now I realize that it is the Montreal Canadiens farm team and that might not be such a popular thing in Leafs country; but if they are so hockey starved there, you'd think they would be frequenting those Bulldogs games. That's what I did when the Coyotes were out of town and we had no home games to go to for long stretches of time. I went to the Phoenix RoadRunners games to get my "hockey fix". They were the Sharks affiliate, that didn't stop me. Hockey is hockey. And I love hockey.
Ron Foxcroft, the owner of the Hamilton based business- Fox 40 International and Fluke Transport- and the man responsible for organizing the Hamilton Bulldogs’ AHL ownership group back in 2002 says: "I have been quoted for the last 20 years saying that anyone who wanted to do an NHL team in Hamilton, should immediately seek medication."
A Statistics Canada study in 2002 showed Hamilton was the ninth-largest head-office city in Canada, slightly behind Quebec City. For those who don’t know, Quebec City lost their NHL team in 1995. Head offices buy corporate sponsorships, corporate suites and season-ticket packages for their businesses. If you do not have the corporate sponsorship you cannot keep a team afloat in any city. Period.
And the last thing I'd like to bring to your attention is this: NHL exhibition games have also been held in Hamilton in the past. In 2006, the Penguins and Sabres played an exhibition game there, to an attendance of only around 7,000. Where were the other 10,000 hockey crazed Hamiltonians?
Coyotes fans, in closing I would like to encourage you to do some research. Read up on things, don't believe everything that you hear or read in the media, or anywhere else for that matter. And certainly do not let the negativity people are spewing upon us bring you down. This is a challening time for us but allow me to share with you a thought that keeps me going: "I never said it would be easy; I only said it would be worth it." Things that are truely worthwhile cannot be maintained without adversity or effort. Adveristy strengthens us.