New ownership for the Phoenix Coyotes? Is it possible? Is it a dream? Or is it finally coming to fruition?
For years, the question was, who would buy this team? Steve Ellman and Jerry Moyes couldn't figure out a way to get rid of the team as fast as they could. Ellman wanted out when his dream arena/entertainment/retail complex failed a public vote to be built at Los Arcos Mall in Scottsdale and Moyes when he figured that the team was a money pit that just siphoned with reckless abandon.
Could we finally be in a situation in which the Phoenix Coyotes have an owner who wants to dig in for the long haul? Anybody who has been involved in the purchase of a company as long as Greg Jamison has with the Phoenix Coyotes must have some resolve and fortitude. These are two characteristics that are essential to owning this franchise, and therefore he might be just the guy to lead this team into the future.
When Jamison and his group came to the forefront in the race to buy the Coyotes, it seemed that the deal would be wrapped up in a relatively short time period. Then Jamison ran into trouble finding investors, and the City of Glendale became an increasingly difficult partner to deal with.
This seemingly never-ending saga involved a conservative lobbying group (Goldwater Institute) that tried to scuttle the deal and two private citizens suing to try to keep it from happening. Add the NHL Lockout to the equation and you have one fine mess of a situation.
With recent court rulings falling in favor of the Jamison group, this deal looks as close as it ever has to being completed. What would a Greg Jamison group-owned Coyotes do differently than it's predecessors?
First and foremost, new ownership would provide stability.
It is very difficult to draw a consistent fanbase to the Glendale Arena. It is about a 30-45 minute journey from downtown Phoenix and the Northeast Valley (with traffic) and about an hour from most of the East Valley where most of the town's hockey fans live. It is even more difficult to build a large fanbase if people do not think your franchise is going to be there for the long haul.
This solves one of those two problems. Most people will be ecstatic that the team is going to be here for a long time.
Second, it will provide the organization with the ability to tell future free agents that the team is on sound financial footing.
With the team remaining in the desert for the foreseeable future, the new ownership group can now begin to recruit players to the Valley with more certainty behind their sales pitches.
Phoenix is one of the nation's 10 largest cities. It boasts phenomenal weather for most of the year, the amenities that it provides are top notch and there is no shortage of activities to participate in. You add that it is relatively inexpensive to live in by comparison to most major metropolises and a great place to raise a family, and you can sell this place to potential free agents.
The 'Yotes missed out on free agents over the years due to the fact that their future was cloudy in terms of relocation. That is no longer the case.
Third, you hope it means a cash infusion to sign better players.
A lot of the financial issues that the NHL faces will be decided by the new collective bargaining agreement signed by the players union and the league whenever it is completed, but it should mean that Phoenix will be more competitive in trying to sign top players.
Moyes cut back spending, and the NHL tried to keep the team competitive while paying cut rates to players. Can you imagine what Dave Tippett could do with some top-notch offensive talent? He got his team to the Western Conference Finals with a group of journeymen, old "washed-up veterans" and a couple of genuine leaders. You surround him with talent and this team could be scary.
Finally, it would mean the fanbase can relax and breathe for the first time in a couple of years.
Diehard Phoenix fans have had a tough go over the past few years. They didn't know if they would lose their team or some of their favorite players because of financial issues.
Under new ownership, this team could focus on hockey, and its fans could focus on unconditional support of the franchise. If Jamison is smart, he will try to discount tickets to bring fans back from the lockout in order to market his supremely talented coaching staff and his rugged, determined group of players.
With all of the other sports struggling, a Jamison-owned Coyotes could truly catapult themselves to the pinnacle of the Valley sports experience. This all sounds so wonderful and amazing that I can't wait for the lockout to end.
Then again, the deal with Jamison still has to be finalized, and I will hold my breath until that happens.