Always Something University made the news cycle again this week.
Our pro hockey team, which should be named the Nomads, has decided that anything is better than playing in Glendale. Or, Glendale decided it was time to tell the hockey team to get the hell out of the west side. You be the judge.
So now ASU has ridden in on the white horse to save the day. Or have they?
Monday, there will be a public love fest (press conference) with representatives from the college and the Arizona Coyotes announcing the pro hockey team is moving into the dorms, er, a sparkling new facility on campus. I’m sure Charli Turner Thorne and Bobby Hurley won’t be in attendance; they may be busy adding paint to their dilapidated joint right around the corner.
I’m sure NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the other owners aren’t in love with the idea of one of their franchises having to resort to playing in a five-thousand-seat college campus arena while hoping that a new home can be built. There’s nothing signed for a permanent complex. Bettman said this to the league-owned website NHL.com “This is a good market. This has been a franchise that has had its challenges, some of which has been beyond its control, and as long as there’s commitment forthcoming for a new building, that it’s going to be worth sticking with it.” The “and as long as there’s a commitment forthcoming” line is, of course, the key to all of this. Because right now, there’s nothing committed to the future.
I’ve heard and read interviews with Coyotes president Xavier Gutierrez since the move on campus first came out. The talking points are pretty simple.
-Tell fans that they’ve been asking to move to the east side, and now the team has obliged,.
-Tell fans that it’s on them to show that they want hockey to work in the Valley. This is code for “show up at public meetings and put pressure on your local municipalities to pay up for a new building, so we don’t have to foot the entire bill.”
-Make sure the team points out that the weather this time of year is fantastic vs other NHL cities, in the quest to attract free agents. I’ve heard the weather thing since moving here in 1993, It doesn’t work if the player isn’t getting paid the most money on a team that can win a title. What has happened is aging superstars use Phoenix as a nice landing spot at the end of their careers for a golf vacation and a little bit of hockey.
Having heard variations of this speech many, many, times from many, many different Presidents and Owners since the team first arrived in 1996, here’s how this script will most likely go. If Tempe doesn’t come through on a new building that doesn’t work financially in the favor of the hockey team we will hear rumors of Houston or Portland relocation, possible ownership groups will be kicking the tires through back channels; the current president will leave(go look up how many presidents the Coyotes have had since coming to Phoenix)
So has Always Something University saved pro hockey in Arizona? Or have they merely slowed down the inevitable? I don’t blame the school one bit. What’s the downside for them? Does the team forget to pay the rent?
I hope the Coyotes prove me wrong on all of this, but their track record here in the Valley speaks for itself. The turnstile of owners, management, and lack of business development has been exhausting. Not putting a consistent highly competitive product on the ice over the last 26 years has taken a toll on the fan base. I want hockey to work here just like the next guy, unfortunate for me I’ve watched this movie too many times…