Relocation? Sale? Arizona Coyotes have 3 potential paths in arena saga

Apr 10, 2024, 12:05 PM | Updated: 5:32 pm

The Arizona Coyotes have three possible outcomes as their struggle to find land for a permanent arena have continued since the end of the 2021-22 NHL season. Multiple reports, including those from  Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro, indicate a sale to the Utah Jazz’s ownership group is advancing.

Gambadoro reports that owner Alex Meruelo can either sell the team outright, relocate temporarily to a suitable arena or sell the team and have the option of returning to the league as an expansion squad.

The last option would be contingent on whether Meruelo can win a June 27 bid on a tract of land in northeast Phoenix, move in concert with the city on construction plans and then get shovels in the ground to have an arena ready in a reasonable timeline, as agreed on by the league.

Gambadoro reports that the third option is most likely.

Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported Wednesday that the NHL is concurrently drafting multiple schedules for the 2024-25 season, one of which has Arizona relocated to Salt Lake City.

There are a bevy of reasons why the Coyotes could be strongarmed by the NHL into relocating the team to Utah — even if Meruelo indeed is trying to keep the team in Arizona.

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith has spoken with multiple publications this past week about adding a pro hockey team in the near future and even asked for fans to submit potential team names to him.

That has tied his intentions with the Coyotes’ uncertain future.

Arizona Coyotes arena uncertainty dates back to 2021

Meruelo took over the Coyotes in 2019, but Arizona was not renewed to play at their Glendale arena, then Gila River Arena, after the 2021-22 season. Arizona since moved to Arizona State University’s Mullett Arena, which seats about 5,000 fans, for the past two years.

The Coyotes targeted a former landfill in Tempe to build a permanent home, but though the city council was for the development, voters in May 2023 shot that plan down.

Since then, the Coyotes looked at East Valley sites, including in Mesa, before settling on land at the northwest corner of Scottsdale Road and the Loop 101, just west of the city of Scottsdale.

The Coyotes still would need to win an auction on June 27 before paying for the undeveloped land. Meruelo has said he will personally fund such a project.

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Relocation? Sale? Arizona Coyotes have 3 potential paths in arena saga