16 January 2011

What Foolish Backwards People!

I rarely get out to the far west side,  but on the car trip to tonight's Coyotes game, we happened upon something pretty astonishing. It's mostly farm fields and sad, dusty cults surrounding the stadiums out there. But until today, I had no idea just how backwards some of these religious enclaves are. 

My camera was inadvertently in film mode, so sorry about the terrible framing, but I think you can make out two groups lining up after playing what appeared  to be a very primitive form of base ball. 'Players' wore rough, homemade textiles, reminiscent of late 19th century civilization - or perhaps contemporary Mesa.

As I say, I dont often venture this far from our modern metro center, but it was a fascinating glimpse at a defiant little subculture, remarkably insulated from present day mores and innovation, with which to better their lives. I felt sorry for them, and imagine they dont bathe often or treat their women especially well, although I witnessed no direct evidence of this.

Just a stone's throw from this reactionary clique looms the ultra modern University of Phoenix Stadium, like a space ship from a more advanced civilization. And Jobing.com arena, where we watched the Coyotes thrash Anaheim, 6-2. Hockey's fun to watch live. There's less dead time than the other big American sports, and you cant really see, let alone appreciate, the physicality, grace and teamwork from a  zoomed in TV frame. The team, under Dave Tippett, is disciplined, tenacious and easy to root for. 

But on a Saturday night, with little else going on locally, the arena was half full. And a third of those seemed like Anaheim fans. There's 85 reasons why hockey hasnt caught on better in the Valley, but I really think if the Coyotes ran some aggressive loss leaders just to get generic sports fans like me in the arena, they would engage folks and get some hooked.  They're doing some of that, but considering how tenuous their future appears in the Valley and how hard the NHL has tried to establish hockey here,  I assumed price cuts would be deeper and more desperate. 

It almost makes me think, despite the public face of recent ownership "progress", that the days of hockey in the Valley are numbered. It hurts my civic pride to say that, but I've started to pay more attention to the Glendale lease and financing situations, and just dont see how the Coyotes can break even, absent massive subsidies. According to USA today, their 2009-10 player payroll was $49M.  That's almost as much as the Diamondbacks. Their revenue streams must be a fraction of the other local franchises. Paltry TV revenue.  Ticket revenue is probably about a third of the Suns' gate - and a fifth of the Dbacks'.  The City of Glendale is rallying  around 'parking revenue' as the big panacea that will make it all work. That's not a good sign. 

Somebody has to pay that $49M payroll, plus expenses, every year. Either fans or taxpayers.  At this point, it's sounding like more of the latter.    


Russell Berrisford said...

Here in Vancouver you can't get a hockey ticket for less than 90 Canadian dollars (that's about 30 US dollars I think) and the Canucks are still sold out for every game.

Diamondhacks said...

My man behind the Circle K can get you 37 dollars(U.S.) for your 100 Canadians. Dont thank me - just mail down as many Canadian dollars as you can.

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