Phoenix sports fans differ on Coyotes’ future
Phoenix-area sports fans have mixed views on whether the Coyotes can flourish in their state
Monday, May 18, 2009
By Simon Dingley CBC
It’s a blistering 107 degrees outside (for us Canadians, that’s nearly 42 C). Phoenix sports fans seek shelter from the heat in a downtown sports bar called Cooperstown.
There is some major-league memorabilia here, but the place isn’t named after baseball’s Hall of Fame. It’s a tribute to shock-rocker Alice Cooper, who owns the joint.
The servers, both male and female, all sport black goth makeup around their eyes, just like Cooper wears while performing.
The bar is a classic rock fan’s dream. Aerosmith’s signature song Dream On blasts from the speakers. Rock album covers litter the walls. Just above a poster for British progressive art-rockers King Crimson sits a guitar. But there are no musicians’ autographs on the instrument.
Instead, the guitar sports the logo … of the Phoenix Coyotes.
The instrument seems oddly out of place, and the same might be said for the hockey team here in the Valley of the Sun.
“I watched a couple of games on TV, but I’m not sure I understand all the rules,” says Mike of Mesa, Ariz., who is nursing a beer.
Mike has been to a few Coyotes games, but he figures they have no future in Phoenix.
“They’re probably going to go. Arizona’s never had an NHL team before. We didn’t grow up with hockey.”
Jody finds watching hockey on TV is “boring.” But there’s one aspect of the game she does enjoy.
“The fights! Ha ha ha,” she snorts.
Jody lives not far from the Coyotes rink, the Jobing.com Arena in suburban Glendale. She worries if the team heads north, the suburb could head south, economically.
“It’s gonna kill the area. There are already places closing up [around] the arena,” she says.
Asked to name a Coyotes player, Mike is stumped. The only name he comes up with is “Wayne Gretzky,” the team’s head coach.
Gretzky, considered an icon in Canada, isn’t necessarily regarded the same way here.
A local Phoenix columnist says Gretzky is wearing too many hats.
Paola Boivin in Sunday’s Arizona Republic newspaper writes Gretzky shouldn’t be the team’s head coach, managing partner and minority owner.
The columnist suggests local media have been too soft on The Great One, and she feels Gretzky has to be held accountable for some of the bad player choices the team has made.
She also feels Gretzky hasn’t worked hard enough off the ice.
“Gretzky could have done more to promote the franchise,” she writes.
Gretzky ‘need to do a little more’: fan
Sports fan Doug Marsh, walking by the U-S Airways Center, agrees.
“He’s sort of relied on his name being enough without actually trying to push it out here. He’s the greatest hockey player whoever laced up skates … but because he’s Gretzky, he expects people to come to him. I think he needs to do a little bit more,” says Marsh.
Gretzky lives in the swank Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale. A sports bar not far from his house flies several sports flags from its awning.
But the Phoenix Coyotes flag is nowhere to be seen. In its place ruffles the flag of the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.