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Time for Coyotes to break from the past

It’s time, Coyotes fans.

For too long you’ve supported a team that continues to take traditions from a town that didn’t want them. For too long you’ve perpetuated the stereotype that hockey can’t survive in the desert. For too long, you’ve beaten a long dead horse.

The Coyotes ownership situation is a disaster. There. I said it. With arguably the most exciting potential owner dropping out of proceedings today, the sale won’t be wrapped up soon.

And that’s a good thing.

The Phoenix Coyotes are in the best position a team could hope to be in as a professional sports franchise. With no owner, a newer stadium, semi-new uniforms and finally returning the Jets franchise history to its rightful place, the Coyotes are now free to completely reinvent themselves.

It’s like a teenager moving to a new school. No matter what happened in the past, you can be whoever and whatever you want to be when you pull up to the curb on your first day.

A new outlook and attitude could save this franchise. Low attendance numbers, revenue and fan support are waiting to be resurrected along with the team. If the fickle Phoenix fan base is presented with something new and exciting, they will show up, as evidenced by the team’s original move to Glendale, the construction of the new Cardinals stadium, or the multitude of people who ride the light rail for fun.

Think of what this team could do with the blank slate they’ve been handed. They can recreate their horrible advertising campaign (“Don’t Blink” – it’s not in HD anyway), ticket prices should come down to garner support and the jinx of the White-Out can finally be eradicated from Jobing.com Arena.

I, for one, would love to see the Coyotes embrace what they are: a workhorse team who may not play pretty but can offer physical and entertaining hockey that true fans love and new fans take a liking to. Fan interaction needs to increase drastically, both in and out of the building. The Coyotes do a lot for the community, but it’s all under the radar. The team needs to hold viewing parties and contests all over the Valley. At the games, giveaways, special events and ticket packages need to be rampant – and these should be focused on the upper bowl because it sells more tickets than the lower bowl, hence more fans.

Another piece of the puzzle is creating that “hockey atmosphere” present in so many NHL cities. The idea of visiting Jobing.com as a visiting player/fan should be one of anticipation, not like a walk into a public library. The games are too quiet — the loud speaker system works just fine – but the fans don’t make enough noise. Some of the new moves will help fill seats, but I think the addition of a few sections exclusively for fans would be great. Place them randomly around the rink for every game and sell tickets for $20 each an hour before faceoff. Not only will these sections likely sellout, but will gain in popularity and soon become the place every fan wants to sit and visiting fans will hate to sit near.

The PR opportunity is there for the Coyotes and their future owner to support. And yes, all of these things will cost money. The team will take several years to turn into a profitable investment, but that comes with buying a semi-defunct franchise that plays on ice while it’s hitting 100 outside.

But Coyotes fans can’t sit back and hope this happens. They need to be involved and speak their minds to the front office, to the city of Glendale, to the future owner, to the guy sitting next to them at work. A mass-overhaul of an advertising campaign and approach to a small-but-loyal fan base does not come overnight, but the more people call for it, the less the Coyotes can afford to not listen.

So I challenge you, Coyotes fans, and tell the organization to take the best opportunity ever presented to a Phoenix sports team and use it. Change the way they think and do business. Invent new traditions. Interact with fans. Become a force so large in the Valley that every visiting team will dread hearing the first howl radiating from Glendale.


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