The Phoenix Coyotes are last in the NHL in attendance, with 12,662 patrons per game at Jobing.com Arena. This isn’t breaking news that should lead a telecast. They were second to last in 2012-13, 13,924 per game. In 2011-12 they were last in the NHL, 12,421 fans per home game.
There is no magic formula to suddenly increase attendance to Chicago Blackhawks’ levels, the Blackhawks lead the NHL in attendance this season with 21,430 folks per game at the Madhouse on Madison or 108.7% of capacity, but a few ideas may help out the Coyotes a bit.
We are in a season of giving and so I am offering my help to increase attendance at Coyotes’ home games or possibly improve the fan experience. If today was Festivus I would offer my grievances but it’s Boxing Day and I am offering gifts to possibly help the ‘Yotes.
If I have learned anything from New Jack City is that you need to entice your customers with a cheap or free sample to get them interested. The cheap seats for a Coyotes game start at $20. Despite being in the “cheap” seats I like sitting there because you can see the plays develop. Of course you have a good view from the cheap seats because the arena is built at a steep angle, to keep the fans on top of the ice. But walking down the stairs to your seat might induce Vertigo, without a chance to hang out with Kim Novak.
My family is a trio. So out of the gate we have spent $60. Parking is $15. So by the time we walk in the Arena we’ve spent $75. Add on food and drinks and it’s an expensive evening, probably $100 or so. Lower tickets prices for the top three rows of the upper bowl to say $10 and you might entice casual fans. Augment that with the current $1 hot dog, popcorn and soda promotion and you have an affordable evening for a family.
Of course you can get tickets below face value on the secondary market. On Stubhub.com you can get tickets to the Calgary Flames vs. Coyotes game on January 7 starting at $10.50. Quite a bargain for the less popular teams that come through Jobing.com Arena. By the same token the popular teams tend to their tickets above face value on the secondary market. Either way it can get people in the seats.
I drive pass Jobing.com Arena five-days a week because of my commute and to the untrained eye it is hidden in the mass of retail options known as Westgate. Yes there is a large neon sign noting that it is Jobing.com Arena but it can be easily missed. The Cardinals make their presence known to passing traffic but then again it’s hard to ignore a gigantic silver building that looks like a beer keg.
Borrowing an idea from the Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland Raiders and Oakland A’s, the Coyotes should let the traffic on the 101 Loop know that they reside at Jobing.com by the simple means of a large banner. The A’s and Raiders have had large banners hanging from the side of the Oakland Coliseum and it tells the traffic on the 880 who resides there. Simple and effective.
My friends in the East Valley would like to attend games but hate the hassle of driving the approximate 40-miles to Jobing.com Arena. Taking an idea from our local casinos, fans can be bussed to games. Yes, leasing buses (with Coyotes logos?) and getting drivers is not free but you are gaining customers who will buy your product. The casinos take a hit on shuttling customers back and forth but those customers spend money. Plus the buses can be rolling advertisements for the team and are also eco friendly symbol.
The Coyotes intro is stale, dull and a bit dated. On opening night a more, shall I say, exciting intro was used but it was retired after one game. As Oscar Wilde said, “Talent borrows and genius steals.” So be like your NHL peers and have an exciting intro to get the fans riled up.
Also it’s time to retire “Surrender” by the Foo Fighters as the team’s theme music. The song is good but the overall theme of the song doesn’t pertain to hockey. The nearest I can tell is that the song is either about unrequited love or living in a police state. I’m not quite sure.
A solution would be to use Acquiesce by Oasis. A tune about team work and not about the actual title of the song. Loud, inspiring and catchy. Essentially everything you want in an intro song.
Coyotes X has been very open that he wants to host an outdoor hockey game, similar to the Winter Classic. The outdoor game would be held at University of Phoenix Stadium or a Chase Field in February 2015 and would coincide with the Super Bowl that is being held in suburban Phoenix at the same time.
Whatever it takes to host this game must be done, fiscal losses be damned, because the publicity would be priceless. Schedule the Chicago Blackhawks against the Phoenix and 70,000 fans would fill University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals and next door to Jobing.com Arena, and the Coyotes would make headlines for something besides a butt goal.
Building on the possible outdoor game if offered the chance to have a reality show follow the team around, i.e. HBO’s 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic, take it and offer to have cameras follow you as long as possible. It’s free advertisement for the Coyotes and can extend the brand.
Will any of these ideas actually work? Possibly because they have worked for other teams and other entertainment industries.
The Coyotes need to improve attendance and by extension their cash flow. If the franchise accrues more than $50 million in debt in the next five-years they can break their arena lease with the city of Glendale and skip town to Seattle, Quebec or another city looking for an NHL team.
Losing the Coyotes means the end of hockey in suburban Phoenix and my son won't have a team to root for. It's heart breaking to me to think that there is a distinct possibility that in the not so distant future that he will lose the opportunity to go Jobing.com Arena and howl for his Coyotes.