ARIZONA COYOTES

ESPN ranks Coyotes as best franchise in Arizona

Jun 16, 2011, 3:48 PM | Updated: 4:54 pm

No owner? No problem. At least that’s how it looks for the Phoenix Coyotes in ESPN the Magazine’s eyes.

As part of the publication’s annual ranking of all 122 professional sports franchise in North America, the Coyotes finished 28th overall. Despite losing millions last season and a myriad off the ice issues, they were the highest among any Arizona team.

The Diamondbacks weren’t far behind at No. 33 with the Arizona Cardinals (No. 71) and the Phoenix Suns (No. 80) bringing up the rear.

The rankings not only focus on the success on the field, ice or court, but take into consideration ticket affordability, coaches and players, venue, fan experience, team interaction with fans and the fans view of team management.

Even taking into account all of those factors, it comes as a bit of a surprise that an organization with as many issues as the Coyotes could rank that high. Yes, they were the only Arizona team to make the playoffs this past year and they have relatively cheap tickets, but it’s tough to ignore the other factors that have weighed down the club.

Just a year ago it would have been hard to imagine both the Coyotes and D-backs ranking higher than the Suns and Cardinals but it shows just how damaging disappointing seasons can be to a franchise.

Fans had high expectations — even if they weren’t warranted — for both the Suns and Cardinals in 2010-11 and they fell well short of them. We’ll see if they can bounce back in time for next year’s ranking.

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