The Arizona Coyotes became the first team in the NHL with a Native American tribe as its jersey sponsor, partnering with Gila River Resorts & Casinos. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Branding home jerseys
The Arizona Coyotes have helped establish a new chapter in NHL history by signing the league’s first Native American tribe jersey sponsor.
the first in which teams are allowed to advertise gambling sponsors on jerseys
The Gila River Indian Community, which previously sponsored the team at their old arena, will flash Gila River Resorts & Casinos patches on the team’s home uniforms next season, the first in which teams are allowed to advertise gambling sponsors on jerseys. However, NHL rules also stipulate that teams cannot promote gambling sponsors on road uniforms.
The tribe will also be the “presenting sponsor” for the Coyotes and will host engagement activities around Arizona State University, where the team will play next season. The Coyotes are still searching for a sponsor for their road jerseys.
Arizona Coyotes make history
On its surface, the new deal represents a step forward in diversity. The Coyotes’ brass views, though, the team’s partnership with the tribe as “more than a brand sponsorship.”
embracing every aspect of our community.”
“I’ve made it very clear that the three pillars of our business plan are impact, inclusion and innovation,” said Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez. “Not only in bringing diverse voices to our organization but in embracing every aspect of our community.”
The Coyotes were also sponsored by the Gila River Indian Community during their stay in Glendale. The city chose to end the team’s 18-year lease after the conclusion of the last season and renamed the venue the Desert Diamond Arena in August.
Despite the transition, Gutierrez is thrilled to continue working with the Gila River Indian Community. He believes that naming the tribe as the team’s jersey sponsor will help turn a bigger profit.
“They’re going to be a larger revenue partner for us this year than they were previously,” said Gutierrez. “As far as the total package, they’ve increased their spend. We have a longtime partner that believes in what we’re doing, that believes in the club and believes in the temporary, intimate location that we’re playing in. They see it and understand it.”
Finding a home
The Coyotes will spend at least three years playing at a multipurpose facility on Arizona State’s campus. Eventually, the team hopes to build a new arena on city-owned land in Tempe.
the facility seats around 10,000 fewer fans than the previous stomping ground
Mullett Arena, named after a large sponsor of the Sun Devils’ program, will hold 4,800-5,000 people for upcoming games. Unfortunately for fans of the team, the facility seats around 10,000 fewer fans than the previous stomping ground in Glendale.
While the Coyotes may not know where they will be playing five years from now, they are still helping to push sports gambling’s profile ahead, as are the Arizona Cardinals. Earlier this year, the Cardinals held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the league’s first in-stadium retail sportsbook, sponsored by BetMGM.
The Coyotes start their season on October 13 with a matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins. After a tour of the East Coast, they will play their first home game against the Winnipeg Jets on October 28.