On Wednesday afternoon, the Phoenix Coyotes officially announced that they will be changing their name to the Arizona Coyotes starting in the 2014-15 season. The move concludes a rebranding of sorts that has occurred since George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc bought the team in 2013 as they have set out to raise attendance, become more involved with the community and ultimately bring in more revenue.
There is nothing wrong with changing names from Phoenix to Arizona on the surface of things. Of course, it must be conceded that the team does not play in Phoenix, but in Glendale, and that Arizona would be a better representation of this. However, the Coyotes have been playing in Glendale since the end of 2003, so any fans that do not know that Job.com Arena is 12.5 miles north of Phoenix yet are likely not that interested in watching NHL hockey.
Ultimately, this plan will have no affect on the team’s long-term outlook. After all, the Coyotes currently are in the midst of the Western Conference playoff race and have a good chance of making the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five seasons. To believe that changing the first part of the team’s name is going to suddenly make fans pay attention is foolish.
Does anyone really think that the Coyotes are going to suddenly rise from the bottom of the NHL in attendance to suddenly even be average? This thought process, which already looks bleak from the outset, is only dampened by the fact that the team has ranked in the bottom three in average home attendance each year since 2007-2008, even with such fun guys as Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Keith Yandle and Shane Doan all providing adequate entertainment value.
Simply put, this plan looks like a desperate attempt from Gosbee and LeBlanc to see if fans in Arizona will finally pay attention. If all else fails, the two can claim they tried and move out of town when a clause kicks in that allows them to move the team if the two lose $50 million or greater in their first five years of ownership.
After losing $8.9 million just last year, it appears that the Coyotes are going to have to pull together some fans that have been lost in the desert for nearly 20 years now to prevent that from happening.