SBD/April 20, 2011/Franchises

Size Of Phoenix TV Market Major Deterrent To Relocation Of Coyotes To Winnipeg

Tonight's playoff game could be last for Coyotes in Phoenix
Tonight's Red Wings-Coyotes Western Conference Quarterfinal Game Four may be the Coyotes' "last game in the desert," but TV is "one big reason why the NHL has fought long and hard to prevent a possible franchise move to Winnipeg," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. Several current and former NHL governors "highlighted the league's need to keep the Phoenix market," the 12th largest in the U.S., "in order to maximize a U.S. TV contract." One governor: "It's not that they don't want to go back to Winnipeg, it's that they want to keep the Phoenix market. All our broadcast partners want to keep that market." Another governor said, "To be truthful, we hate to lose a big market like Phoenix. That's it in a nutshell." That governor said that it "would be hard to sell a team from a small Canadian city, like Winnipeg, to fans in his market, 'especially on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.'" Shoalts notes the governors "did not know if the possibility of losing Phoenix as a market played a role in the price" of NBC and Versus' 10-year, $2B deal with the NHL, but all "were sure it played a role in the negotiations." One former governor said that the new contract "probably calls for 'a credit back and forth' depending on what happens in Phoenix" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/20).

NOT PART OF THE WHITE OUT: In Phoenix, Mark Faller reported prospective Coyotes Owner Matthew Hulsizer is not expected to attend tonight's game, a "troubling" sign for the team's future in Arizona. Hulsizer has been "mysteriously quiet and invisible for weeks," not attending a single playoff game to date, and the "silence has proven toxic." People close to Hulsizer "insist that all is well, that he is as committed as ever." But Faller writes, "Another absence by the would-be owner of the Coyotes would send an unmistakable message to fans and players: He can't save the team, the move to Winnipeg is imminent, and all that's left is for the NHL to blow the whistle" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/20).
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Arizona Coyotes, Hockey, Franchises, NHL

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