Apr 15, 2024 - News

Arizona reels after news of Coyotes' imminent relocation to Salt Lake City

A hockey coach stands behind several players seated on the bench.

Coyotes head coach André Tourigny on April 10 in Vancouver. Photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

It was a weekend of despair and hand wringing for Arizona Coyotes fans, who learned Friday night that the team is likely headed for Salt Lake City in the offseason.

Why it matters: Wednesday's season-ending home game against the Edmonton Oilers could be the Coyotes' last in the Valley, PHNX Sports first reported.

Driving the news: Team management informed players Friday that the Coyotes are moving to Utah for next season, per ESPN.

  • The relocation will be publicly announced Thursday — the same day as the end of the NHL regular season, according to multiple reports.

Catch up quick: The news comes as the Coyotes have struggled to find a new permanent home since vacating Desert Diamond Arena in 2022. They've been playing at Arizona State University's Mullett Arena.

  • Tempe votes last year rejected a proposal for a new arena and entertainment complex near Tempe Town Lake.

Zoom in: The NHL is facilitating the sale of the team to Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, according to the reports.

  • Smith had requested the league bring an expansion team to the city earlier this year, Axios Salt Lake reported.
  • The Coyotes would initially play at the Delta Center, home of the Jazz.
  • Utah Gov Spencer Cox recently signed legislation to provide $900 million in state funding for a "revitalization zone" in Salt Lake City that could include a new future arena for the Jazz and Coyotes.
  • Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo would get $1 billion from the sale of the team.

What they're saying: In a statement on X, Meruelo neither confirmed nor denied the reports, saying only that there's been a lot of "discussion in recent days" about the team's future and "I hope to address these issues as soon as I am able to speak on the topics."

  • He said he can't make public comments due to "a myriad of issues that are unresolved."

What's next: Per multiple outlets, Meruelo will maintain the rights to the team's name, logos and trademarks.

What we're watching: The team has been planning to buy about 100 acres of state trust land in north Phoenix for a new arena. They even posted an artist's rendering on X earlier this month.

  • Meruelo still plans to bid on the land, reports say.
  • A private meeting between the team and Mayor Kate Gallego about the proposed arena and entertainment district is still scheduled for later this month, the Arizona Republic reported.

Flashback: The team, initially known as the Phoenix Coyotes, started playing in Arizona in 1996 after the Winnipeg Jets relocated to the Valley.

  • The Coyotes moved from Footprint Center, then still known as America West Arena, to Glendale in 2003. In 2014, they rebranded as the Arizona Coyotes.
  • In 28 years, the Coyotes have had nine playoff appearances. Their greatest success came in 2012, when they reached the Western Conference finals.
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