‘We shall return:’ Gary Bettman remains committed to Arizona despite relocation to Utah

Apr 19, 2024, 2:26 PM | Updated: 3:13 pm

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman expressed his support for NHL hockey in Arizona and Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo in a press conference in Phoenix Friday.

“I know he’s committed to keeping hockey at the professional level alive in Arizona,” Bettman told reporters. “I know he’s committed and passionate about getting a building built.”

Mereulo and Bettman spoke to the media following the official announcement of the Coyotes sale and relocation to Salt Lake City, Utah Thursday.

In the press conference, Bettman thanked ASU for allowing the Coyotes to play at Mullett Arena the past two seasons but admitted the facility wasn’t a proper NHL arena.

“This is a place where we think hockey works,” Bettman said. “As a college rink, it’s a good facility but it’s not major league facility.”

Bettman told reporters that Mereulo will still be able to attend board meetings involving owners and that he will still be involved with the NHL despite not being the owner of an active franchise.

The NHL commissioner said it hasn’t been an easy road for the NHL in Arizona but he still believes that the NHL should be in Arizona.

“The journey has been littered with potholes unfortunately but we’ve also stood by the franchise,” Bettman said. “With the right to reactivate, we’re still standing by this market and believe a team belongs here and we need a new arena.”

Bettman and Meruelo are looking to the upcoming land auction on June 27 where Meruelo hopes to purchase the land needed for the development of a new arena in Phoenix.

Meruelo said the land auction will be a critical point in order for him to “reactivate’ the franchise.”

“I have full commitment that I will win that land auction,” Meruelo said. “Once that happens, I will meet the mayor of Phoenix and having her and the city officials work with me on the permitting process, the other issues and the enactment of the theme park district.”

Bettman said at the press conference this won’t be the last time he’s here in Arizona.

“I’d like to say as General MacArthur did, we shall return,” Bettman said.

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