Bettman Says NHL Is Committed To The Phoenix Market

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The league needs an arena soon in the market.

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman has spoken about the Arizona arena situation. He said the league is still committed to the Phoenix market even though there seems to be no backup plan after voters in Tempe said no to building an arena-village on a piece of property that presently is a town dump. Elected officials in Scottsdale seem not to be very interested in having an arena in their town. Bettman thinks Phoenix is a “terrific market” and added. “It’s a growing market and it’s one of the larger markets in North America. We’re at the stage now where the league, ownership, our teams are strong and we’re in a better position to resist moving than maybe we were 20 or 30 years ago, and we want to make sure we explore all options at this stage at where we are before consider having to relocate a club, and I’m hopeful we won’t have to.” The hockey team cannot play in the Phoenix arena because in the 1980s Phoenix elected officials decided to build an arena for just basketball. The building is useless for hockey because there are about 4,000 seats with obstructed views. The building has been renovated and the 4,000 seats still have obstructed views.

Bettman said something that is very true and why leagues and sports owners are loath to put a stadium or arena funding plan before voters. Most of the time voters say no. But that doesn’t mean no is no. Bettman pointed out two votes failed during his tenure as NHL Commissioner in Uniondale, New York and in Columbus. But both areas ended up with arenas. In the 1990s voters said no to funding baseball parks in Seattle, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee yet team owners ended up with new stadiums. Just because the voters said no, that doesn’t mean no is no in the stadium game.

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National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman .(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)