When the NHL lockout began, I can’t help but admit that a small portion of me was excited.
As someone who is (sometimes) paid to cover the Phoenix Coyotes, that probably doesn’t seem natural, but allow me to further my thought. I hoped the lockout would give officials in the City of Glendale a sneak peek at what life without hockey would be like, what the massive losses at stake would be like and the damage those losses could do to the city’s already struggling economy.
So, Glendale, have we learned our lesson yet?
One of the highest-grossing Westgate bars during games, McFadden’s, said they are losing between $18,000 and $32,000 per game missed.
Rumors have circulated about businesses eyeing other locations in an attempt to chase profits. In a dying shopping center, who can blame them? Businesses aren’t charities, they need to make money to survive. Without a hockey team at Jobing.com Arena, they’re not making enough.
The city estimates the tax revenue alone from each game missed is in the neighborhood of $60,000. I can’t certify it, but I’m guessing it’s much, much higher.
As Glendale faces yet another vote on the Coyotes’ future in the Valley, it would be a wonder why they would consider turning down a restructured arena management fee with prospective owner Greg Jamison. The city can’t survive astronomical loss like that, especially considering it is already in debt.
Some may argue that the city could find another group to manage the arena that would bring in concerts, expos or other events to fill nights left vacant by a departed Coyotes team. Pipe dreams are nice. There are a finite number of events that could book in the Valley and Glendale faces steep opposition from numerous other cities and venues.
The Coyotes guarantee 41 home games in a regular season, in addition to preseason and postseason games, along with other team-related events. Any arena management group would be challenged to fill those extra nights in addition to months when hockey is out of season. Granted, they would be required to pay a certain fee if they do not book the arena a specified amount of nights, but that makes me wonder just how many groups would be willing to accept that challenge.
Also, Glendale does not work at the speed of light. If the city chooses to find a new arena management group, how long will it take for it to sit down, consider the offers and make a deal? If the failed Coyotes deals of times past teach us anything, residents are in for a long, long wait.
Without the Coyotes and relying solely on the Cardinals and college bowl games, Westgate is doomed. There simply is not a large enough revenue stream that can be generated by the surrounding community and another arena management group. While the NHL is currently locked out, Glendale would be wise to approve the restructured arena deal and establish their future as one that has embraced hockey, rather than one that throws their hopes on the shoulders of another group and hopes things work out for the best.
Glendale, I sure hope you’ve learned your lesson and consider it before the upcoming vote. You’re bleeding money at an alarming rate and one can only wonder how long it will be before you decide to staunch the bleeding.