Monday, May 7, 2012

Perfect Timing: The Sale of the Phoenix Coyotes

A 1-0 road win in Game 4 means one thing for the Phoenix Coyotes: one more to go until they face their division rival LA Kings for a chance to play for the Stanley Cup. But on the business side of things, it means something else. The team becomes marketable, and most importantly, sellable.

For quite some time, many have thought that marketing hockey in Arizona was a pipe dream at best, and with good reason. Since the franchise relocated their home-ice hockey from Winnipeg, Canada to the Arizona sun and sand in 1996, they've had more than their fair share of struggles. And the lack of a really successful team (this post-season is their first trip passed the first round) seemed secondary to the financial woes.

When the previous owners could no longer afford to financially maintain the team in 2009, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stepped up and delivered for the hockey fans in Phoenix. The NHL took over the team, and has ever since been fronting the money for the team's expenses. This system however, could not last forever, and the NHL has been desperately seeking a buyer that would not relocate.

According to all reports, Bettman has found that buyer, and it will be officially announced soon. His name is Greg Jamison. Jamison will lead a group of investors, the same way he successfully turned San Jose into a hockey town during his time as the CEO of the Sharks.

The NHL announcement signals the league is comfortable with investment money and any financing involved with Jamsion’s bid. It also sets the stage for a city of Glendale vote on payments to the Jamison group to facilitate the sale and help the group absorb some short-term financial losses. The Coyotes lose $20 million to $25 million per season. The city will pay new Coyotes owners to run Arena. - Phoenix Business Journal

Looks like Arena still has a job, after all.

What better a time for the NHL to sell it's prized commodity?

A new owner, with experience in successfully running a hockey team, is perfect for this market. The Wayne Gretzky experiment failed, but the Greg Jamison era will begin. This certainly isn't the end of the struggle to produce a profitable team in the desert, but it is the biggest step in turning it around. Many hockey fans, including myself, have continuously bashed the commish for moving the team to Phoenix to begin with. Here's to hoping this is the first step in proving the haters wrong.

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