With the Arizona Coyotes in the market for a new stadium, Valley residents expressed interest in a more centrally-located venue to boost attendance at games and build the fan base.
The Arizona Coyotes have called Gila River Arena in Glendale home for the past 13 years, but sole owner of the team, Andrew Barroway, told the Arizona Republic in July that the team was looking for a more suitable venue.
With talks of moving to a more central location in downtown Phoenix, Tempe or Mesa, Valley residents are optimistic about the effect a move would have on the team and its fans.
One Arizona sports fan, 12-year-old Teague Perez, thinks a potential move would boost his interest in hockey, a sport he is least knowledgeable about.
“I think I would because it’s much more accessible and closer, so I could go a lot quicker whenever I want instead of having to travel all the way out there to get to it,” Perez said.
Perez, a student, said that while a potential move to downtown Phoenix could lose some west side fans, the downtown area has a strong sports fan base that could aid the Coyotes’ popularity.
The team and supporters of the potential move say that a change in venues would increase game attendance, which currently ranks as second last in the league. Even those not interested in sports, like 22-year-old server Savannah Stegall, say a more central location could bring them to games.
“Maybe. Yeah, it’s hot, so we need to go to hockey games,” Stegall, a Phoenix resident, said with a smile on a hot Arizona night.
Valley residents agreed that accessibility was a key factor in the need for a new location. Armando Heredia, a 45-year-old artist from Buckeye, said if a new stadium would be a better venue and more accessible, the team’s fan base could only grow.
Not everyone, however, thinks the move is the best idea for the team and for the area. Vianca Navarete, a 26-year-old Phoenix resident, said staying on the west side is better for Maricopa County because areas like Tempe and Phoenix are already booming.
“I think leaving it there would be a better investment long-term for trying to grow that area versus some of the areas that are already thriving,” Navarete, who works in marketing at Republic Media, said.
Whether in support of the move or not, residents can agree that a change in venues will have an impact on the team. Jimmy Rodriguez, a 47-year-old police officer from Phoenix, talked about a similar shift when the Arizona Cardinals moved from Tempe to Glendale in 2006.
“I think there will be an effect of course,” Rodriguez said. “You want whatever city wants that team to be representing them.”
The team has yet to make a decision on a relocation next season. Until then, the Coyotes begin the regular season October 5 at Gila River Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.