Phoenix trying to become ‘Arizona Coyotes’

The Arizona Republic points out Phoenix recruited all four major professional sports teams to Arizona. Only one wears the city’s name on its uniforms.

Even then, the Suns sometimes use the airport code: PHX.

This does not help our identity issues one bit.

The Coyotes are the latest franchise to dropkick its affiliation with Phoenix, attempting to become the “Arizona Coyotes” under terms of a new deal with incoming owner Greg Jamison. According to team officials, the switch won’t happen until 2013, as it’s too late for the change to be approved for next season.

But it’s a clean and easy break. Only a side patch on the hockey uniform needs to be altered, replacing the “PHX” with “AZ.” And with no spiritual connection to our capital city — the Coyotes play their home games in Glendale and stage occasional practice sessions in North Scottsdale — the change seems logical.

But it comes 18 years after the local NFL team ditched its association with Phoenix, becoming the “Arizona Cardinals” while playing home games in Tempe. And in the end, the lack of big-city affiliation doesn’t help the small-minded, disconnected nature of our populace.

Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in America. It is the 13th-largest designated market area, with approximately 1.8 million television households. Yet the same market commonly is referred to as the “Valley,” an ambiguous, nowhere phrase that perfectly reflects our scattered nature.

Phoenix native Phil Motta has a marketing firm and a background in sports. He said the “use of ‘Arizona’ as a bland, imprecise compromised alternative to the urban, big-league name ‘Phoenix’ contributes to a diminished sense of urban patriotism.” He believes this contributes to the small-market behavior too often prevalent in these parts, one born from a small-market self-perception.

It’s also partly why he moved his business to Los Angeles.

“I hated doing that,” Motta said. “But things like the Cardinals dumping Phoenix as its identity — and thus telling the country and the world that the place called ‘Phoenix’ wasn’t really a major-league city like Chicago or Seattle or LA — badly hurt the place’s image and affected its suitability as a headquarters location for firms like mine, which solicit clients all over the country and the world.”