Hang in there Phoenix Coyotes fans!!!

As the news starts to break on the Jamison group not being able to come up with the funds, I wanted to send a note to the Coyotes fans who have been loyal through this whole ordeal. Hang in there, the coming days, weeks and maybe even months will not be kind. I’ve always rooted for you guys and would love for you guys to prove the world wrong by building something great down there. The future is getting very cloudy for you and no fans 200px-Phoenix_Coyotes.svgdeserve to go through what you have already been this scenario. No one can question your loyalty & loyalty is something I value dearly.

I also want to call out some data points:

  • In the 2003-04 Season your attendance was better than Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Pittsburgh and New Jersey
  • For 3 seasons, 2003 – 2007 you out drew Chicago
  • Only in the 2009-10 season when the future of your team looked in Jeopardy did you attendance drop below 600,000. No one can blame you for bailing on a franchise that looked like it was bailing on you.

There are plenty of lessons here: location, single anchor tenant for the arena, poor ownership, Goldwater & even housing bubble had a part in this ordeal. None of those things were the fans fault. I radically believe in the game and I still think the NHL can work in the desert. You may see things differently but I believe the league really tried to make this work and try not to be bitter at them. They kept it going and tried to make it work for almost 4 years.

It might still work out but I, like a lot of people thought this is the final chance to save the franchise. I would love to see you guys prove us wrong.

You deserve better. Hang in there.

-John

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All eyes on Phoenix & why Seattle might be an option for the Coyotes

Let me first state, I am not rooting against keeping the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale. I believe in this sport very much and I am convinced that with the right ownership team, hockey can do well anywhere. Based on the Coyotes Sale Hockeysuccess of the San Jose Sharks, I am certain Greg Jamison can turn the franchise around. Outside of Arizona, I am sure I am in the minority here.

There is a lot to the Glendale/Coyotes story but for simplicity sake, Greg Jamison has about 5 days to close the purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes to take advantage of the lucrative lease agreement with the city of Glendale. The tricky part for the Jamison group is that the lease agreement was passed by a more Owner friendly city council last year and several of the new city council members have been fairly vocal in the unwillingness to agree to such subsidies.

My theory all along has been if the Coyotes don’t stay in Glendale, they would end up in Quebec City. This is largely due to the fact that Seattle would need an NBA team first & Quebec City has a decent temporary facility to play in while they build the new arena. Although not a done deal, it looks like Hansen and Ballmer will be closing the deal on the Kings. Then the globe and mail podcast mentioned that the league wants to relocate a team to Seattle and get 2 expansion teams to Canada. This makes a lot of sense. The theory being that the Canada can support a losing expansion team better than Seattle. So give Seattle a team that has a fighting chance to get into the playoffs in the first couple years.

The first piece of the puzzle will be what happens in Glendale this week. After that I don’t expect we will hear much on relo until the Kings/Sonics situation gets settled even then you might remember the Thrashers move to Winnipeg practically happen in the middle of the night with no advanced warning.

Be ready Seattle!!!

Here is some reading/listening material:
http://www.azcentral.com/community/glendale/articles/20130125phoenix-coyotes-glendale-deal-ticking.html?nclick_check=1
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/nhl-fans-are-all-the-way-backmp3/article7795075/ – Podcast where they talk Seattle Relo around the 20 minute mark.

Attendance Volatility of the 2011-12 NHL season

Last night on did some analysis on attendance to date over the first 34 games of this appreciated NHL season. I posted my findings on twitter and it created quite the buzz.tweet

It was not the most in depth analysis but it was a relatively fair view at the games year over year. So I decided to take it a little further and determine what the typical season looks like from a seasonality perspective to see when we might really understand the impacts, if any to the lockout.

We often hear that NHL operates at a +95% occupancy. That’s outstanding but I wanted to take a look at some of the teams that have more attendance volatility. So I’ve decided to take a deep dive at the seasonality for the 2011-12 season. For this exercise, I’ve isolated any team that operate at a 99% occupancy rate for the season. The assumption here is that they virtually sell out every night so there isn’t much sense analyzing their data. Including those teams in the data will hide some of the fluctuations. As the season goes on, analyzing their attendance will be very easy.

Half the league virtually sells out the season. The teams I’ve eliminated from the data set that have averaged over 99% capacity are Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Chicago, Detroit, Edmonton, Montreal, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg. If your team is on this list…be proud!!! So that leaves these following teams that had attendance volatility during the 2011-12 season: Anaheim, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, NY Islanders, Ottawa, Phoenix, St. Louis, Tampa Bay. I should quickly point out that the Ottawa numbers are debatable. I read that Scotiabank Place has a capacity of 19153 for hockey but several times last year the Senators drew 20,500 six times during the season so I used 20,500 as max capacity. If anyone has some insight here feel free to share. I had similar issues with Minnesota and used their max capacity as 19,290.

Of the 15 teams with Attendance volatility, the Kings, Blues and Nashville have highest occupancy rate, over 97% (all three of them were playoff teams). Remember that would put them 16th – 18th for occupancy rate so it isn’t as great as it sounds. The lowest occupancy rate was Phoenix (surprise), Dallas and Columbus.

OcRate2012-13

With the same data set, I wanted to see what games (#s) have the lowest occupancy rate.

In an 82 game season, the lowest attended games are Games 3,4,5,2 & 7. Listed in order with game 3 having the lowest occupancy (77%).

gamebygameSeasonality

Isolating some of the more interesting teams attendance you can see the crazy volatility.

bottom4volitility

I imagine we will see a huge increase in attendance for the Stars and Coyotes. Stars have re-stabilized the team and their fan base while the Coyotes had a great playoff run and appear to have an owner right around the corner (yes, I know you’ve heard that before).

There are a host of other factors to consider when digging into these numbers such as Giveaways, promotions, price points, opponents etc. I am sure the teams look at this in detail but I don’t have access to this information so I kept it simple and consistent.

One thing I did not do was try to understand the impact of giveaways, special promotions, like entertainment competition (i.e. Football, Baseball). The fact that NHL is starting this year clears the way of competition they face in the fall. Ever wonder why NBC Network (not Sports) doesn’t really start carrying games until Jan/Feb? Football.

Let me know your thoughts.

The Sacramento Kings news and what it means to a potential NHL team in Seattle

Key Arena

This is the hockey configiration inside the Key Arena. The far end is closed off.

As I imagine most of your Seattle readers and even fringe NBA fans, news broke yesterday that the Maloofs are close to selling the Sacramento Kings to Seattle SoDo Arena backed group led by Chris Hansen & Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The intent of the purchase will be to move the team next season to play in Key Arena while the SoDo Arena is built. This is obviously huge news for the City of Seattle and the huge Sonics fan base. As I’ve said numerous times here before, an NBA team is a prerequisite to getting an NHL Team. Why? Well we don’t have an arena for them to play in and the SoDo Arena is really tied to the Hansen group’s financing deal with the city. In that deal, the arena cannot break ground until an NBA team is procured for the Seattle. (I actually cannot recall if it is specific to an “NBA” team but I know Hansen does not want to be an NHL owner). Also important to realize is that the Key Arena is not a good temporary facility for hockey. Because of the small footprint, part of the arena must be closed off (I’ve included an old grainy picture from a game I played in 7 or so years ago in the Key).

Take a look at some of Hansen’s comments made to a radio show in the summer. He has said that it is probably ideal for hockey to come a couple years after the NBA because of the Key Arena facilities. I also recall an interview Gord Brown, one of the owners from the T-Birds, gave about a year ago where basically said there is no way the NHL would play a season in Key Arena. The interview was about this time last year but I have no clue what radio show it was on.

So this all sounds great but it is important to remember that this deal for the Sacramento Kings is not done and the Maloofs have not been the most forthright negotiator so let’s not get overly excited here. It should also pointed out that the news triggered Kevin Johnson, ex-NBA star and Mayor of Sacramento, to hold a press conference saying that they will “fight like crazy” to keep the team in Sacramento including finding a local ownership group.

In something that even surprised me, yesterday a reported asked Gary Bettman about the possibilities of a team in Seattle. His response was pretty much as you would expect: “Not something we’re focused on or considering right now”. Keep in mind that the CBA has not been signed and the schedule isn’t even out yet so I would be shocked if he would have commented with substance on the topic. Audio here: relocation comes up around the 10 minute mark and the question on Seattle comes up around the 14 minute mark.

Here is some other important info that I was able to aggregate:

  • Kevin Johnson will be looking for a mix of local buyers and out of the area investors that will keep the team in Sacramento
  • The rumored price the Hansen/Ballmer team are offering up is 500Million. Forbes has the Kings valued at 300M
  • According to sources, the Maloofs will retain a small ownership position in the Kings/Sonics
  • Deal calls for them playing in Key Arena to start the 2013/14 season
  • NBA has a relocation application process that would require a team to file before March 1st

This is all great news even if nothing is finalized but let us remember there are fans on the other side of this potential deal so be respectful. I wish there was another way.

January 11th UPDATE: According to Matt  Steinmetz, a San Francisco NBA beat writer, the deal is done. 525Million with no ownership for the Maloofs.  https://twitter.com/MSteinmetzCSN/status/289786204034052096

Forgive me if you have heard this before…

Interesting article in the Phoenix Business Journal. They are reporting that Jamison still looking for investors to come up with the funds needed to buy the Coyotes from the NHL. This could be very troubling for Jamison and the future of the Coyotes in Arizona. Last month, the city of Glendale approved a lease agreement with the Jamison group that was very favorable for the group. The incoming city council that takes office in January has been vocal in the opposition of the deal so if the deal doesn’t close by the end of January the Coyotes days in Glendale could be number. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I do not want to see Phoenix (or any city) lose their team. I believe in the sport and think that under good management with the approved lease terms, the team can be successful down there. If these deal falls through, the direct impact to Seattle landing a team will be minimal. I would predict that the team will play out the 2013 season in Glendale and then relocate to Quebec City, assuming decent ownership group. Seattle is not ready for an NHL Team since could not legitimately play in Key Arena while another Arena is being built.

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results of a poll from http://www.tomfulery.com/ (Check it out)

The long term impacts could be that by Quebec City getting a team, Seattle becomes the leading candidate to get a franchise. My general theory has been the league wants to get to 32 teams. As such, Quebec City and Seattle are awarded NHL Expansion Franchises in 3 to 4 years. That theory goes out the window since you need two to tango in expansion. The Greater Toronto Area could certainly support another team but with the Leafs territory rights it might be too expensive to land a team there. (TSN estimated that the expansion and/or relo fees could be close to a billion dollars). That is a lot of money & they still don’t have an arena that would cost at least 500M. After Toronto, I don’t see a lot of options. Let me know what you think?