Matt Smith's Arizona sojourn continues:
After three hours in a helicopter above the desert and two hours in a jeep through the desert, it’s time to cool down. The answer? NHL! It’s time for some professional hockey, which we don’t have in Arkansas anymore. The Phoenix Coyotes are playing the Minnesota Wild at the Glendale arena. The arena shares a parking lot with the Cardinals NFL stadium. The location is in the new Westgate development. Westgate is a mix of retail shopping, sports arenas and condominiums. It is a mixed living development designed to keep you close to home. The goal is to give you enough to do so you never feel the need to leave.
I finally find a sports event that isn’t sold out. The Cardinals, the Suns and NASCAR were at capacity levels this week. The Coyotes aren’t even close to a sell out, despite the fact that they celebrate “Ten Years In The Desert” all year. The tenth anniversary of the franchise means pulling out all the stops. There seem to be special promotions planned for every home game this year. The mascot, Howler, and the cheerleaders are doing the best they can to fire up the crowd. Billy Ray Cyrus sang before the game. He even signed autographs all night. The arena is perfect and new, just like all the sports facilities in Phoenix. However, these efforts aren’t making hockey a priority for sports fans in Arizona.
We have seats right behind the bench. The “Great One” Wayne Gretzky is right there; just a sheet of glass separates him from the seats. He is doing a good job with the team, and they win tonight. But even Wayne being the most famous person in the history of hockey doesn’t fill the seats.
His fans are vocal and we enjoy the game. I was able to meet him, and he seemed extremely calm for a professional level sports coach. No one would confuse Gretzky with Bobby Knight. Hit up the official site @ www.phoenixcoyotes.com
I still have to tell you guys about Motley Crue and Aerosmith in Arizona. I will get it done before the weekend. -- Matt Smith