Did Phoenix ever deserve to have a NHL franchise?

The Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1996 due to their inability to keep star players in Winnipeg and because Winnipeg featured a hockey arena that was the smallest in the league. The problem with the move is it was essentially doomed from day one. The Coyotes have never turned a profit in Arizona due to a terrible stadium lease with the city, playing their first seven years in a facility completely inadequate for hockey, and for a lack of success on the ice. The simple facts here are this is a team that has not won a playoff series since 1987, and the folks in Arizona apparently have better things to do with their time and money.

When the team began play in Phoenix, it played its home games at American West Arena the home of the NBA Phoenix Suns. Now, while that arena was considered a state of the art facility for basketball, it was a terrible place for hockey. The NHL rink barely fit into the arena, and while it was reengineered to fit it left a significant portion of the seat in the arena with an obstructed view. In fact around 4,200 seats at that arena could not see almost a third of the ice surface.

Since the stadium only sat 16,000 for hockey nearly a quarter of those seats had to be sold at a discount. So no matter what success this team had early on, and it made the playoffs in five of its first six years in Phoenix, this team could not make profit because of the terrible stadium. In 2003 the team and City of Glendale, Arizona opened the Jobbing.com arena but the lease signed with city that siphoned off revenue from the team insured that this team would remain financially unviable.

Given those facts, the Coyotes were never in a position to recover from the mismanagement of the recent owners and front office. The economics of hockey demand long playoff runs to drive up revenue and merchandise sales, and in 13 years in Phoenix the Coyotes have never been able to do just that. In recent years they have been unable to field a competitive team due to errors in judgment by the coaching staff. In the end the decision to move this team to an inadequate arena in Arizona doomed this venture.

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