What’s Old Is New …

Today we have an old story with a new twist.  The Arizona Coyotes – formerly the Phoenix Coyotes – may need to pack up and move.  First, let me give you a thumbnail sketch of why this is an “old story”:

  • The Winnipeg Jets of the now defunct WHA were taken into the NHL about 25 years ago and plopped down in Phoenix.  Even if you do not follow hockey, the fact that the sport is more completely known as ice hockey should give you an idea about the general public’s interest differential between Winnipeg and Phoenix.
  • The team owner declared bankruptcy and abandoned the team turning it over entirely to the NHL which had to run the franchise for about 5 years before it could find an ownership group willing to keep the team in Arizona.  The NHL has been fixated on having a “Sun Belt presence/national footprint” for a couple of decades.
  • The team has had a testy relationship with the city fathers in Glendale where their home arena is located; the team operates there on a year-to-year agreement.

And now the story takes a twist.  Reports this morning say that the city fathers in Glendale have told the team that the year-to-year agreement will not be renewed beyond the 2021/22 NHL season.  Moreover, the basis of that decision by the folks in Glendale demonstrates that the “interest differential” between Winnipeg and Phoenix for ice hockey events is real and should have been given more consideration more than a decade ago.  Consider these points from a report at CBSSports.com this morning:

  • Glendale is looking to host “larger, more impactful events and uses of the city owned arena.”
  • An economic consultant told the city fathers that concerts would be more economically impactful for the city as compared to hockey games.

Normally, when a franchise moves it is because ownership has gotten a sweeter deal somewhere else.  In this case, it is the city that has asked – ever so politely – that the team hit the road and take its act somewhere else.  According to that same report this morning, “somewhere else” could well be Tempe, Arizona.

  • Phoenix, AZ – – Strike One
  • Glendale, AZ – – Strike Two
  • Tempe, AZ – – ???

Switching gears to another sporting venture that does not generate huge local economic windfalls for hosts, here are two comments from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot recently:

Future watch: Miss the Olympics? Well, another one — the Winter Games from Beijing — begin in less than six months. Naturally, the coronavirus will continue to play a role for athletes and fans. In fact, the 2022 Games could serve as a Chinese homecoming for COVID-19.”

And …

Add Games: After following the river of red ink, countries are catching on that the Olympics aren’t worth the investment. Beijing’s only competitor for the Winter Festival was Almaty, Kazakhstan.”

Indeed, the postponement of the Tokyo Games until earlier this month jammed the Olympic schedule to the point that they might as well have started the torch relay from Tokyo to Beijing without bothering to douse the flame.  Notwithstanding the snub by the IOC, Almaty has a reasonable claim to viability as a Winter Olympics site.  Here is a fact-not-worth-remembering:

  • Of all the nation’s capitals in the world, Almaty is the second coldest one based on meteorological/climatological measurements.  Only Ulan Bator, Mongolia sports colder winters.

NBA TV ratings have been trending down for the past couple of seasons; they are not disastrous by any means, but they are not holding fast let alone growing.  Various commentators have ascribed the decline to things like:

  • LeBron James fatigue – – his teams are always on TV and always in the playoffs.
  • Backlash from an audience segment that did not appreciate being bombarded by  Black Lives Matter messages.

I surely do not know why the ratings have been falling; and, perhaps, reasons akin to those above are significant contributors to the decline.  However, I think there are two other factors that have an impact here and I do not see them being part of the normal discussion:

  1. College basketball is hugely over-exposed on TV.  Here in the DC area, it is commonplace to find as many as 25 college basketball games on various cable TV channels on a Saturday.  That creates “viewer-fatigue” very quickly and with “viewer-fatigue” comes a lesser degree of familiarity with college players who are the fuel for new NBA attractions.
  2. The cost of attending an NBA game is staggering.  In times when folks are having difficulty making mortgage payments, the idea of a father taking a couple of kids to see an NBA game on a non-school night is a budgetary challenge.  This situation has obtained for quite a while, and I wonder if the growth of new fans from a young age has been stunted because of it.

Finally, since I cribbed two comments from Bob Molinaro above, let close with another of his observations:

On pace: First estimated to be out five to 12 weeks after foot surgery, it appears that Colts quarterback Carson Wentz could be behind center for Week 1 of the NFL regular season. Which, given his history, puts Wentz on a fast track to his next injury.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “What’s Old Is New …”

  1. I enjoyed watching the NBA Playoffs last Spring, but I bet it was was twice as many regular season games as I watched.

    I think people enjoyed the NBA when GS and Houston were having great seasons. Both were fun teams. I pull for the Hawks, but they have one player worth staying up late to watch.

    1. Doug:

      The playoff are worth watching because every game has importance. Such is not the case in the regular season.

  2. A budgetary challenge?

    I thnk that was the place Sports Curmudgeon could have inserted colorful language akin to a mini-rant–using words that might get him kicked off the internet.

    How much would a moderate, regular-season NBA outing cost for one parent and two children?

    1. TenaciousP:

      For a Saturday night game in November against the Miami Heat (a good team but not a champion) the tix for the Washington Wizards are available in the middle tier of the arena from between $69 and $107. Therefore, good-not-great seats for a good-not-great opponent would be about $90 apiece. For a father and two kids, that comes to $270.

      Event parking near the Cap One Arena will run $25-30 – – call it $30 and we are at $300 even for the father and his kids to get in the door.

      If there is to be food/drink to go with the game, you are talking about a minimum of $20 for a kid and about $40 for an adult. That would be a minimum of another $80 and maybe as much as $120. Staying on the low-side here, we are now up to $380 for the game.

      If Dad lets the kids go shopping in the Team Store, he will be fortunate to get out of there for less than $100.

      These are estimates to be sure – other than the cost of the tickets themselves – but the cost of that evening is about $500 in round numbers.

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