The cash-strapped Arizona Coyotes may have lit the lamp when they acquired American winger Phil Kessel from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Arizona investment in Kessel has paid immediate dividends. Ticket sales have spiked nearly 600% since the two-time Stanley Cup champion was reunited with head coach Rick Tocchet last month.
According to data acquired by the Arizona Republic, season ticket sales are up 600%, and all ticket sales are up 550%. Please support the original source and read the full story from The Republic here.
Despite being ravaged by injuries and a small payroll, Arizona missed the Western Conference playoffs by just two points last season. Tocchet was a coach of the year candidate.
However, the future of the franchise has been in doubt as the organization has been fighting for a new arena. Rumors persist relocation is possible but the acquisition of Kessel, who is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and became a pervasive fan favorite in Pittsburgh, has been a boost.
“It’s certainly satisfying and exciting to see us doing something as a franchise that we feel makes us a much more competitive team and puts us in a better position to win,” Coyotes President and CEO Ahron Cohen told the paper. “The fact that other people in this market are seeing that, fans are seeing that, and they’re jumping on board.”
New majority owner Alex Meruelo has taken over an organization which has hemorrhaged tens of millions of dollars in the 21st century. In 2003-04, the team moved to a new arena in Glendale, but the drive from Phoenix into the blinding Arizona sun, the slowing of the Arizona population boom, and a team which has not consistently stacked wins have kept the team’s future in perpetual doubt.
One innovation which is also spurring sales is the “Weekender” package which provides ticket holders with access to the Friday, Saturday and Sunday games. The package is a relief for the problematic drive to Glendale on weekdays.
Arizona has struggled on the ice. Since 2005-06, only the New Jersey Devils have scored fewer goals than Arizona. In May, Tocchet seemed to signal Arizona’s interest in Kessel or another scorer. Last season, Kessel scored 82 points in 82 games including 27 goals. He had 92 points and 34 goals in 2017-18.
The Phil Kessel factor has been the ignition to an increasingly positive situation. Could a new Arizona arena be the house that Phil built?