Coyotes lease deal paves way for name change

Amid all the financial projections and political debates surrounding the
Coyotes’ new lease deal with Glendale, which was approved by the city
council on Friday to clear the way for the team’s sale, was a
little-noticed subsection of the agreement.

It reads
as follows (under the “Arena” section of the document that
can be viewed here
): “(ii) The Team Owner shall use
commercially reasonable efforts to have the name of the Team changed to
the ‘Arizona Coyotes’ as soon as is commercially
feasible.”
 
That’s right: the Arizona
Coyotes.
 
A name change had been rumored for
some time — basically ever since the team moved from America West
Arena (now US Airways Center) in downtown Phoenix to Glendale in 2003 —
but had never been officially requested or acknowledged in the past.
That’s no longer the case.
 
Neither prospective owner Greg
Jamison nor any Glendale official has mentioned or commented on the
potential change, but based on the various subsections in the lease
related to advertising allowances for Glendale and a mandated effort to
include the word “Glendale” in the arena’s official name, it’s clear
that the city no longer wants the Coyotes to be associated primarily
with Phoenix. That seems fair since the city is footing the team’s
arena-operations bill of approximately $15 million a year.

 
There’s also some precedent: Jerry
Colangelo made it clear during the Diamondbacks’ infantile period that
he wanted the team to maintain a statewide association rather than a
Phoenix-specific one, and the team formerly known as the Phoenix
Cardinals changed its name to the Arizona Cardinals in 1994 in an effort
to grow its fan base statewide (although the team’s increased
attendance probably has had a lot more to do with University of Phoenix
Stadium and a run to the Super Bowl than a nominal
renaming).
 
The only question appears to be
exactly when the Coyotes’ change will be submitted/approved/implemented.
Given the timeline for finalizing the purchase — which could still be
delayed in court by the Goldwater Institute — before the
change can even be requested through the NHL, it seems likely that the
team taking the ice for training camp in September will be the familiar
Phoenix Coyotes.
 
After that, plan on
needing to update all those T-shirts and pompons and whatnot.