The stories really aren't that similar. The only aspects they share are hockey, local politicians swimming out of their depth and the fans who unwittingly got unplugged from the Matrix like Keanu Reeves.
Fourteen years ago, the City of Glendale, Arizona agreed to be home to an arena for the Coyotes, who were then playing in Phoenix. The team had trouble keeping an owner and spent a couple of seasons being owned by the NHL while Glendale floated them $50 million to stay put. Two years, Glendale agreed to pony up even more money over the next 15 years to keep the Coyotes playing at Gila River Arena. Then, this week, after losing millions upon millions, they decided they didn't want to do that anymore and canceled their arena lease with the team.
About ten years ago on Long Island, the Town of Hempstead was offered an answer to the decades-long obsolescence of Nassau Coliseum: a massive multi-billion-dollar privately-funded complex paid for by Islanders owner Charles Wang. The plan would have included a new arena and a ton of other buildings that would generate revenue for both the team and county. The town said the "Lighthouse Project" was too big for their "suburban character" and stalled Wang for years. So Wang scaled it back a little. The town stalled some more. The Islanders and Nassau County let the people vote on a municipal bond to pay for it. The people said no. Finally, in 2013, Wang said he and his team are moving to Brooklyn's brand spanking new Barclays Center.
One town wanted its new hockey team so badly, it spent truckloads of money to keep them. One town really wanted its old hockey team juuuuuuuuuust as long as it was exactly the same as it was before.
One set of politicians bent over backwards to hand a professional sports league worth billions of dollars a few million more just for the prestige of having that league do business in their town. One set of politicians sat on its hands while a historic arena crumbled to pieces right under its feet, waiting for someone else to fix their problems.
One city council was so focused on making a splash that it decided to gamble taxpayer money on the future, knowing full well the dangers that lay ahead. One town is so vehemently adverse to progress that it looked a $4 billion dollar facelift in the eyes and said, "No thanks."
One team could be on the move to an arena that isn't even built yet. One team is moving to a less-than-perfect arena that will pay them tens of millions a year just for existing.
These few points simplify some very complex political and financial dealings that dragged on over the course of years. After a while, the details and cast of characters all blend together into a hazy mess. Take it from a person that's been through it.
There's a lot of sympathy for Coyotes fans, as well as a lot of "just move these guys already" hands going up in the air from non-Coyotes fans who are sick to death of reading about the goings on in Glendale courtrooms. Believe me, nobody wants this ordeal to end more than Coyotes fans do.
There is no spoon
The limbo of not knowing where your team will play next year (or this year) is a fate no fan should have to deal with.
It changes how you watch the games, how you evaluate the season, how you perceive players, how you talk about the team and how they're covered by media. You spend more time worried about politicians and lawyers than goalies and defensemen. You're reading building leases while everyone else is reading box scores.
You're outside of The Matrix.
The escapism of fandom has been removed. Instead, you're being chased by the unstoppable machines that really control everything.
Living outside The Matrix isn't for everyone. Some people will be willing to make any deal, just to get one more season. Some spend so much time on the outside that when they're plugged back in, they have trouble adjusting.
Ignorance isn't bliss. But everyone deserves a chance to eventually enjoy the hell out of that steak.