When the deal finally went down, pundits did not believe George Gosbee made a wide investment.

Here was a Canadian banker who is flushed with cash and a passion for hockey. Why not transform your dreams into the ultimate fantasy and buy an NHL franchise?

So Gosbee went out, formed IceArizona, negotiated with the city of Glendale, Arizona for a favorable lease on Arena, and then secured the Phoenix Coyotes from the NHL.

Squashing attempts to relocate the Coyotes to Winnipeg, Quebec City, and points here and there, the NHL waited for an acceptable buyer, like Gosbee, to come forward. Through four years of turmoil and uncertainty, the league held-fast that it desired a team in Phoenix, the country’s sixth-biggest market.

During a news conference in early August, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at his side, Gosbee announced his group purchased the team, and the reported price was $175 million, the amount the NHL asked all along and would not budge from.

Because the Coyotes reported losses of $25 million to $30 million annually in recent years and have not shown a profit in any year since relocating from Winnipeg to start the 1996-97 season, the purchase by Gosbee was considered a losing proposition.

Perhaps not.

In figures released by Forbes Magazine, the Coyotes are currently worth $200 million, and that seems to be an increased value of $25 million in the formative months of the Gosbee regime.

When figures on the worth of NHL clubs were released by Forbes a year ago, the Coyotes’ value was put at $175 million, and at that time, only the St. Louis Blues had a lower value.

In the recent Forbes numbers, the Coyotes have remained ahead of the Blues (valued at $185) and past Columbus, Tampa Bay, and Carolina in franchise value.

Forbes estimated the Coyotes generated a revenue stream of $67 million last season, and reported a loss of $8.9 million. Keep in mind that was for the locked-out season of 48 games, nearly half of the regular 82 game schedule. If the NHL played a full season a year ago, the losses may have extended to close to the $20 million range.

Coyotes LogoStill, Gosbee hopes the Coyotes are on their way to financial health.

If there is any indication, seats in the upper level of Arena are now filled. Going forward, Gosbee and his marketing team need to address ways to fill the more expensive seats in the lower level.

If the Coyotes show some financial gain over last season, they are a considerable distance from a secure position. That remains a lofty goal and Gosbee can look at the Toronto Maple Leafs for encouragement.

In the Forbes’ assessment of NHL franchises, the Leafs are valued at $1.15 billion, most valued among NHL teams, and the tenth most valued franchise in the world.

In the Forbes world listing, Manchester United holds the top spot with a value of $1.86 billion and 17 million followers on Facebook.

Among the top 10 franchises worldwide, Forbes cites the Dallas Cowboys ($1.81B) second, followed, in succession, by the New York Yankees ($1.78B), the Washington Redskins ($1.58B), Real Madrid ($1.45B), the New England Patriots ($1.37B), Arsenal ($1.19B), the New York Giants ($1.18), the Houston Texans ($1.17B), and the Leafs.

Among NHL teams, Forbes lists the top five as the Leafs, followed by the New York Rangers ($850M), the Montreal Canadiens ($775M), the Vancouver Canucks ($700M), and the Chicago Blackhawks ($625M).

About The Author

Mark Brown is a former sports editor for daily newspapers in the Philadelphia and Cincinnati markets. He was named Best Sports Columnist, honorable mention 2004 by the Associated Press Society of Ohio. He is a contributor to major daily newspapers, including the Chicago Sun Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Milwaukee Journal, Arizona Republic, Nashville Tennessean and the Associated Press. He was a Featured Columnist for and covered the Arizona Coyotes.