When it comes to professional hockey, or professional sports for that matter, there are very few firsts left. That is especially true for a team that has been around 50-plus years like the St. Louis Blues.
With the league playing home and away against every team in the NHL, you don’t have to wait multiple seasons to see a certain star player any longer. Gone are the years where it was multiple seasons before Mario Lemieux might grace the ice in the St. Louis Arena or you didn’t have to worry about Martin Brodeur stoning you multiple games a season.
There are no more firsts in terms of opponents. When the Blues faced the Seattle Kraken in 2021-22, that was the last time many of us are likely to see a brand new team enter the NHL.
It’s never an impossibility to have an expansion, or maybe even a current team moves, but it’s unlikely. The NHL is content with an even number of teams in each conference and there aren’t really any markets that would really serve the NHL well in terms of new viewers. Houston, maybe, but don’t hold your breath.
That’s why January 26, 2023 might be one of the final times we’ll ever get to see something new and interesting. That’s the day the Blues travel to Arizona to take on the Arizona Coyotes.
What’s the big deal, right? We have seen the Blues play the Coyotes dozens of times, even forming a brief rivalry when both teams were good in the early 2000’s.
What makes this time special is that, through a mess of their own making and also partially out of their control, the Coyotes will be playing actual NHL games in a collegiate arena. That’s right, for those that have been under a rock, the Coyotes are playing their home games in an arena built for the Arizona State Sun Devils hockey team.
This arena doesn’t even have a name yet, or at least not a name we’re used to. Until any naming rights are added to it, it is simply the ASU Multi-purpose Arena right now.
That just rolls off the tongue. I can just hear John Kelly welcoming us to it now.
Good luck getting a seat to this if you want to watch it in person. Even as bad as the Coyotes have been lately, it’s easy to fill up a 5000-seat arena pretty fast.
Additionally, you’ll spend a lot. The cheapest seat is going for $89 per game for season ticket holders. Expect that to be around $100 per game for someone literally buying a ticket for one game.
If you want to sit on the glass, you’ll probably spend around $500 per ticket. Season ticket holders are paying between $350 and $445 per ticket per game to sit that close.
And here I thought it was bad when the Blues bumped their glass seats up to a couple hundred bucks. You could sit mere rows up the lower bowl seats for a little more than the cheapest ticket for the Coyotes will sell for.
Nevertheless, we can’t fully discount their plan. When you’re removing 10,000-plus potential butts from seats, you have to make up the financial difference. If you create demand, people will show, if only for the novelty of it.
That’s what will make the game on January 26, 2023 must watch. We’ve seen the Blues play in small arenas in preseason games. When the standings count, it’s always in a traditional arena or an outdoor stadium.
As a broadcaster, I’ll be interested to see what the camera angles look like. You’d be amazed what a few feet of difference, up or down, can make to a shot, much less the different angle an arena that small will provide.
The one downfall, as previously mentioned, is it will be less likely for Blues fans to be there in person. Unless they pay a good amount and snatch up tickets on the secondary market, we won’t see a large contingent of people wearing Blue in Arizona as we have in recent years.
Even so, it will be one of the final firsts some of us may see for the Blues. There will always be a first game for a new player or even the first game in some new arena that is normal.
Seeing a professional game in a collegiate arena is something different and worth paying attention to. Most Blues fans watch every game anyway, but that one will surely be one not to miss.