GLENDALE – The Coyotes’ home rink will have a new name when the 2014-15 training camp opens next month: Gila River Arena.
“This is the most important business transaction we were looking to accomplish this off-season,” said Anthony LeBlanc, the team’s Co-owner, President and CEO, on Wednesday.
The “transaction” is a nine-year partnership agreement with Arizona-based Gila (pronounced (Hee-luh) River Casinos that includes the naming rights for the team’s home arena, which was first named Glendale Arena when it opened in 2003 and then Jobing.com Arena since 2007.
LeBlanc said the name change is dependent upon the Glendale City Council’s approval at its next meeting on Sept. 9. LeBlanc estimated Glendale will receive $600,000 annually as part of the naming rights deal.
“We don’t see there being any issues with an approval,” he said.
Should the council approve the name change to Gila River Arena that night it would go into effect on Sept. 10. The team will open its training camp about a week later – exact dates are TBA.
Gila River Casinos already was a valued business partner of the Coyotes; the arena naming rights deal – and the corresponding enhancement of their existing sponsorship agreement – was born from that relationship.
“We just felt that this made a lot of sense,” LeBlanc said. “As we went through the process over the last three or four months we realized … it really was a serendipitous relationship between the two of us.”
LeBlanc said the Coyotes hosted Gila River Casinos representatives at the arena a few months ago. General Manager Don Maloney, Head Coach Dave Tippett and captain Shane Doan were present as the team pitched its plan for the naming rights deal.
“I think that was the tipping point when they realized how strongly we viewed this relationship,” LeBlanc said. “From that point forward it really shifted into high gear. We finalized the agreement over the last two or three weeks.”
Mike Humes, the team’s Executive Vice President of Corporate & Suite Sales, said Gila River Casinos is an ideal corporate partner for the Coyotes.
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“It’s very important for us to have active, engaged partners so that they’re activating our brand and all the elements of who we stand for in our community,” Humes said. “They are an A+ community citizen and they are valued as such across the board in the entire state and the entire Native American community, so we couldn’t be happier. They’re very engaged in everything that’s going to help us drive our brand, drive our ticket sales across Arizona and bring more national and international recognition to our franchise.”
LeBlanc said the team was allowed to end its 10-year deal with Jobing.com as a condition of IceArizona's purchase of the team last summer.
“It would be inappropriate for me to not thank the folks at Jobing.com, and in particular Aaron Matos, the founder, who was a tremendous partner of the Coyotes over the past seven or eight years. We thank them for the long-term relationship, but we’re now looking forward to the next phase of our corporate relationships that we have here in the Valley.”
Meanwhile, LeBlanc said the naming rights deal with Gila River Casinos is only part of a very busy and productive summer for the team's business staff.
“We are seeing tremendous upside this off-season,” LeBlanc said. “…We’re more than likely going to triple our corporate sponsorship revenues, and that doesn’t include this naming rights deal in that number. We are moving in the right direction very aggressively this off-season.”