The Salt Lake City Coyotes — or the Houston or Quebec version — will have to wait.
A day after Tempe voters rejected a proposal for a privately financed $2.1 billion arena project, a source told Front Office Sports that the Arizona Coyotes will remain in town next season.
The Coyotes — who are in the midst of a three-year agreement to play at Arizona State’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena — were stunned by the negative results of Tuesday’s vote on three ballot initiatives. None garnered more than 44% support, and those within the team were optimistic before the still-unofficial election results were posted.
ASU and the Coyotes agreed to a three-year lease before the start of the 2022-23 season, and the team spent millions on upgrades to its temporary home in Tempe. While relocation likely remains an option down the line, breaking the lease and finding a new home before next season starts in October would have been a major lift.
Industry sources interviewed by FOS said it’s likely that the Coyotes and NHL would seek a long-term home versus another temporary one in a different market.
Alex Meruelo, who purchased the Coyotes for around $300 million in 2019, has made it clear that he will make every effort to keep the team in the Phoenix area. The Coyotes have played in three different venues — including arenas in Phoenix and Glendale — since the franchise relocated from Winnipeg in 1996.
Now, with the bad election results, there’s also been chatter about Meruelo potentially selling the team — but one source said any such talk is “all speculation at this point.”