When it comes to the Arizona Coyotes, nothing appears to be safe. When the team was owned by the NHL, every year remained a question of whether or not the team would stay in the Valley. Then, before last season, the team was finally purchased by IceArizona, only to have the deal potentially voided this past month. Regardless of the roadblocks and rumors, the ownership has remained steadfast in their commitment to the Valley by signing a flurry of long-term deals, which includes their newest deal with Gila River Casinos, reassuring fans that one thing can now be certain: the Arizona Coyotes are seriously here to stay.
No matter what long-term deals that the IceArizona group has inked over the course of a year – which includes deals with the City of Glendale on an arena lease (15 years), with LEVY Restaurants for concessions (15 years), Ticketmaster (10 years), FOX Sports Arizona for television rights and Fanatics, Inc. for apparel and merchandising rights – all anyone can still seem to talk about is the group’s five-year out clause.
“I wish people would stop looking at the five-year out clause and start looking at all the long-term deals we’re signing,” said Coyotes Chairman and Governor George Gosbee in an interview with Fox Sports Arizona.
The clause, which states that the group could relocate the team should they still be losing money by the end of Year Five, is “frustrating” to Gosbee. He hopes that fans will see how well the team is already doing financially. George Gosbee and the rest of the ownership, whose plans include making the NHL Arizona Coyotes franchise profitable by the end of Year Three, has recently reported that the team could be profitable even sooner than expected:
“We’ve always had a three-year plan for achieving profitability here, but with how well the NHL is doing, we think that could fast-track our plan and we could get there even earlier.”
Their most recent signing with Gila River Casinos is just one more step forward in proving IceArizona’s commitment to keeping the Coyotes in the desert. The nine-year deal with the federally recognized tribe, which includes the naming rights to the team’s arena, is the first of its kind in the history of America’s four major professional sports.
The hybrid deal between the two should pay the Arizona Coyotes franchise roughly $3.5 million per year, a significant increase from their previous deal with Jobing.com. With the successful Stadium Series events and their new TV rights deal with Canada’s Rogers Communications, the NHL should see a big increase in revenue. The new arena deal with Gila River should now help add to the increased revenue streams awarded to Arizona.
Despite the rumors that will continue to swirl most likely until the end of Year Five, IceArizona and the Arizona Coyotes remain steadfast in their approach to putting a winning team back out on the ice. Both the ownership and team’s front office have shown their commitment to winning by working and retooling the team every which way they can within their limit. Regardless, if there is one thing that is becoming more and more certain every year the Coyotes open their season to a sold-out crowd, it is that they are here to stay…. Seriously, this time.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles