Arizona Coyotes 5,000-Seat Arena Solution Is Not A New Idea

The team could play three years in the facility.

There have been some derisive comments about the news that the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes franchise could be playing in a 5,000-seat arena for a few years that is being built for the Arizona State University hockey team. The Arizona franchise needs a place to play after Glendale officials decided they didn’t want the hockey team around anymore using the city’s arena. The Coyotes ownership is attempting to build an arena-village in Tempe, Arizona. There is a sports gambling element to this that could create a revenue stream for the team. Professional sports franchises in Arizona can get a sports betting license. The National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals will be housing a sportsbook in its Glendale facility. Coyotes ownership is already involved in the gambling business.

This is not the first time a major league franchise has considered playing in a 5,000-seat arena. Robert Block and Marvin Fishman purchased the National Basketball Association’s Chicago Bulls in 1972 and there was a plan to build a 5,000-seat arena in Rosemont, Illinois for what Block called high rollers. Block was putting together pay television outlets and the thought was it would be easy to find 5,000 people to pay high prices for Bulls games and generate a healthy revenue stream from pay TV. Arthur Wirtz, the owner of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks didn’t want any part of Fishman and Block because they planned to build a small arena for the NBA Bulls and the World Hockey Association’s Cougars, then a rival to Wirtz’s business. Wirtz was the most powerful owner in the NHL and told his NHL partners who owned NBA teams to vote against Fishman and Block. That happened, Fishman sued Wirtz on antitrust grounds and won a $17 million judgment. Arizona ownership is borrowing a 50-year-old plan.

Evan Weiner’s books are available at iTunes –  

(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)