More Gila River Arena events are planned by the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes and Global Spectrum, as the arena still struggles to meet financial projections for Glendale’s city government.
In fact, Glendale came up a million dollars short last year, as expected revenue from parking and concerts came up well short of projections. And with the city subsidizing arena operations to the tune of a $15 million management fee paid annually to the Coyotes, that shortfall hurts even more. With the Valley of the Sun being a four-venue area — besides Gila River Arena, Phoenix hosts US Airways Center downtown, Wells Fargo Arena on the ASU campis and Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the Arizona State Fairgrounds — promoters have lots of leeway when it comes to booking business.
To cement the Gila River Arena as a hockey venue, Coyotes management is pitching Arizona State University on playing some big games there in the future. Now, ASU hockey is basically a startup: the program is moving up to NCAA Division I next season, and the majority of the Sun Devils’ games will be played at Oceanside Arena in Tempe, a 500-seat venue. Going from Oceanside Arena to Gila River Arena will be quite the culture shock to fans and players alike.
And adding some ASU hockey games probably won’t take a huge bite out of that million-dollar operating deficit. Several high-profile concerts are booked, and perhaps the way to leverage ASU hockey is to launch a four-team holiday tournament, marketing just as much to alumni of visiting teams as to ASU hockey fans. In any case, adding a handful of ASU games to a venue that can’t draw hockey fans with good NHL play isn’t a formula for success.
There’s also a potential situation brewing with the city, as some officials say they’re not receiving miuch cooperation from the Coyotes. From the Arizona Republic:
Glendale spokeswoman Julie Watters said that former City Manager Brenda Fischer, who resigned last month, had discussions with the Coyotes about arena events but Watters said she had no details about those conversations.
Councilman Gary Sherwood said it’s frustrating trying to work with the Coyotes as business partners.
“We’re giving them $15 million to manage the arena and we haven’t had much dialogue,” he said.