Arizona Coyotes sale to Ryan Smith expected to be approved by Board of Governors on Thursday

Apr 17, 2024, 5:00 PM | Updated: 6:56 pm

The Arizona Coyotes expect to announce the sale of the franchise to Jazz owner Ryan Smith and relocation to Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, according to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.

Smith is expected to pay $1.2 billion for the franchise. Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo will receive $1 billion while the rest of the NHL owners will receive shares of $200 million as a relocation fee.

If Meruelo and Arizona are awarded an expansion franchise in the next five years, Meruelo will pay back the $1 billion in order to buy the new team.

The sale comes after the team struggled to nail down an arena situation, currently playing at Arizona State University’s Mullett Arena. The team’s contract with the 5,000-seat arena runs through the 2024-25 season.

What led to the sale of the Arizona Coyotes to Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith?

After a May 2023 public vote failed to greenlight the team’s purchase and development of an entertainment district in Tempe, the Coyotes’ most recently targeted land for a new arena in northeast Phoenix. Owner Alex Meruelo was planning to purchase state land at an auction that was listed to go up for bidding on June 27.

The tract of land is located on the northwest corner of the Loop 101 and Scottsdale Road near Desert Ridge Marketplace.

The Coyotes said that the development would include a 17,000-seat arena and 150,000-square-foot practice facility.

It would also feature a concert venue for a live music theater for 3,000 attendees, 400,000 square feet of retail and a multi-purpose watch party plaza equipped with a supersized screen for viewing events. The district would be covered by a 170,000-square-foot canopy spanning the arena to the theater.

Meruelo still plans to bid on and win the auction on June 27 for land in northeast Phoenix, on which he hopes to build a hockey arena suitable to host an NHL team.

For now, he plans to retain ownership of the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ affiliate in the American Hockey League, and will negotiate to be an affiliate of the new team in Salt Lake City. He will explore moving the team from Tucson to the Valley so it can play its home games at Mullett Arena in Tempe.

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