It wasn’t that long ago that the only professional sports team in Phoenix, Arizona was the Phoenix Suns. That changed in 1988 when the NFL’s Cardinals moved to the desert and became the Phoenix, then Arizona Cardinals. This was followed by the birth of the Phoenix Coyotes who were relocated from their former home in Winnipeg before the 1996 season. Finally, Major League Baseball came to town with the Arizona Diamondbacks playing their first game in 1998.
So how can a person living in New York accurately gauge the temperature of the sports scene in Phoenix? Well, the truth is I can only speculate what the pulse of the people is in the Valley. However, there are enough nuggets of information out there for me to form a somewhat enlightened opinion. We can start with the D-Back Fan Fest that took place in February. The estimated crowd was 25,000 compared to 10,000 that showed for the 2011, a staggering increase for a team that finished last the prior two seasons. They are a team that is starting to become stacked with potential superstars. At this point in his career, Justin Upton is just about at the level of what Larry Fitzgerald means to the Cardinals, Steve Nash means to the Suns and Shane Doan means to the Coyotes. Mix Upton in with an ace in Ian Kennedy and a colorful character such as Ryan Roberts and you can see why it didn’t take long for Arizona fans to fall in love with this team.
Fans are hungry to see a winner. Builidng on their National League West Championship, the Diamondbacks are on the verge of having a prolonged winning period. Might I add, the only pro franchise to win a Championsip was the Diamondbacks in 2001. The Cardinals finished strongly last season but until they can settle their QB situation, it is hard to picture the Birds matching the potential success of the D-Backs. The Suns appear to be on the verge of entering a painful, but hopefully not long, rebuilding process. Given how the NBA is shaking out with superstars pairing up, maybe the best scenario for the Suns is to miss the playoffs and to get lucky in the lottery. Although they are playing admirably, the Coyotes can not expect to see any sustained success as long as their ownership situation remains unsettled.
It is all there for the Diamondbacks to become the leader of professional sports in Phoenix. Now all they need to do is to back up my words.
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