NHL's Phoenix Coyotes go back to college with new arena
After starting the season with six road games, the Coyotes make their home debut tonight against the Jets at the newly opened Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona.
Why it matters: It's a college arena, home of the Arizona State Sun Devils. And its 5,000-fan capacity is the smallest in NHL history.
The backdrop: The Coyotes had played at Gila River Arena in nearby Glendale since 2003, but were evicted last December due to over $1 million in outstanding venue and tax payments.
- They're hoping to build a new arena, but as a stop-gap they struck a deal with Arizona State.
- They'll play at Mullett for at least the next three seasons.
State of play: It may be small, but Mullett is also the nicest college arena in the country because the Coyotes know they'll be there a while and helped build it out accordingly.
- Ownership spent roughly $30 million on a two-story annex with two NHL-caliber locker rooms and other team facilities, which should be completed for their next homestand in December.
- They also funded other key upgrades to make it NHL-ready, including a replay booth and the pipes beneath the floor to ensure ice quality.
Between the lines: The cozy confines should create a fun atmosphere, particularly after the Coyotes averaged just 65% capacity at their 17,000-seat arena last year.
- The team expects to sell out every game and says it will make 50% more on season tickets than in any year at Gila River.
- There will also be a student section for every game, with 400 tickets available at just $25–$50 each.
The last word: "I can't wait," Ducks star Trevor Zegras told ESPN. "That college feel of, like, people over the glass, 5,000 fans, student section. It's gonna be awesome."