Bettman Expresses Confidence In Phoenix Market As IceArizona Takes Over Coyotes
Ownership of the Coyotes "ceremoniously exchanged hands Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman ceded control to IceArizona," which on Monday completed the $170M purchase of the team to end a "four-year odyssey," according to Sarah McLellan of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Some of the changes "ushered in by the new set of owners will be flashier than others." There already is a "contingent of billboards plastered across the Valley announcing the team is 'Here to Stay.'" Additionally, the NHL All-Star Game "could return." Bettman said, "We’re going to do that at some point" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/7). Bettman, IceArizona Principal Anthony LeBlanc and Partner George Gosbee said that they are "committed to the franchise being financially viable in Phoenix." LeBlanc said, "This team is here to stay in Glendale and in Arizona." He added that the Coyotes will "look to up their player personnel payroll but the team will not spend the same amount as franchises in larger markets." LeBlanc: "That’s just the reality in this market." Bettman said closing the deal with IceArizona was important "because we’ve always believed in this market." He added that the team "may eventually have a new naming rights deal at Jobing.com Arena" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/6).
BETTING ON PHOENIX: SI.com's Stu Hackel noted NHL owners "are no longer subsidizing a team that has lost" around $20-$25M per year. The league has "won a hard-fought battle to hold on to the 12th largest TV market in the U.S., a region with a fair amount of Northern transplants and vacationers, and provided the franchise one more chance -- maybe one last chance -- to grow roots in the desert under more stable conditions." What IceArizona "faces now could be even more formidable: making the Coyotes a successful business." It has "never been one and some doubt it ever can be" (SI.com, 6/8). Bettman said Coyotes fans can now "unabashedly, without restraint, give their emotions to this team" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/6).