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Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Coyotes Closing in on Arena Site in Move Toward Long-desired Stability

  • NHL team reportedly nearing long-awaited location decision for new venue.
  • Facility issues just one of ongoing transition for long-embattled franchise.
Apr 13, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Liam O'Brien (38) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at Mullett Arena.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes are reportedly close to a decision on where to build their $2.1 billion sports and entertainment district, a move that could bring a major dose of stability to the long-struggling franchise.

Nearly four months after the NHL team signed a letter of intent to purchase a plot of land in Mesa as the possible development site, the Coyotes are now said to be focusing on a separate parcel in north Phoenix, adjacent to Scottsdale.  

The new location would represent something of a compromise. It’s further away from Mesa and other areas in metro Phoenix’s southeast valley, which represents a sizable portion of the team’s season-ticket base. But it’s very near some of the wealthiest areas in north Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, and it’s closer to Glendale, the team’s previous home.

Even after signing the letter of intent in Mesa, the team said it would continue to explore other potential development sites. For now, the team remains at Arizona State University’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, a facility less than a third the size of the NHL’s next-smallest arena.

A final decision and announcement regarding the arena site is expected within the next several months. Despite years of uncertainty and lagging attendance, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has remained steadfast in his support of keeping the Coyotes in the country’s 11th-largest media market.

Media Matters

The Coyotes also remain in a state of transition with regard to local media rights. The team recently parted ways with the bankrupt Diamond Sports Group and struck a separate deal with Scripps Sports to show their games locally. That deal, however, changed the specific local TV channels used, and some fans found it difficult to find early-season games.

The team also filed a formal claim against DSG in October seeking nearly $18 million in unpaid rights fees. 

The Coyotes are enjoying a resurgent season, holding the top wild card slot in the Western Conference after only reaching the playoffs once in the last 11 seasons.

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