Maybe Phoenix, Arizona is just one of those markets where hockey needs more time. According to Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal, the Coyotes aren’t drawing well at the gate, again. Willis tweeted today that the Yotes are below 70% in announced attendance this season. Tweet courtesy of Jonathan Willis.
Phoenix is tied for Pittsburgh for fourth in the NHL.and they're below 70% in *announced* attendance.
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) November 5, 2013
The Coyotes ownership troubles came to an end last summer. No more excuses – the team is remaining in Phoenix, at least for the immediate future. New owner Anthony LeBlanc even thinks his franchise can bloom in the desert, or so this article from the Los Angeles Times reported on October 30th. Maybe they can, but it’s not happening yet.
The Coyotes are a good hockey club. They’ve made the Stanley Cup playoffs in three of the last four seasons and they’re well on the way to qualifying again this year despite playing in the NHL’s best division. Great team, but bad attendance.
Attendance may rise in the desert. As the playoffs draw nearer the fans will likely come. The Sea of White is always in full effect once the post season begins, making it obvious the city cares when winning a championship is potentially right around the corner. Either that, or the NHL hires seat-fillers like you see at the Grammys.
If you visit the ‘NHL attendance‘ ranking page on ESPN you will find the Phoenix Coyotes at the bottom of the list this season. The 11,717 attendees per game the Yotes experience is more than one-thousand lower than the 29th ranked New York Islanders, and approximately three-thousand lower than the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils who respectively place 28th and 27th on the list.
If the Desert Dogs finish the season 29th or 30th in average attendance it will be the fifth straight season they’ve done so.