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Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Arizona Cancels Auction for Land Coyotes Owner Sought for New Team

  • Alex Meruelo sold everything but the Coyotes name earlier this year.
  • The land was key to Meruelo’s hopes of restarting an NHL franchise in Arizona.
David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes’ hopes for a revival in the Phoenix area took another hit Friday.

The Arizona State Land Department canceled an auction planned for Thursday for a 110-acre piece of state-owned land in north Phoenix that Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo sought to purchase for a new arena—the first step toward his quest to revive NHL hockey in the area. Meruelo sold everything but the team’s name to Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith as part of a $1.2 billion deal in April.

“This unprecedented action by the State of Arizona seriously jeopardizes the future of NHL hockey returning to the desert,” the Coyotes said in a statement posted to X.

Meruelo retained the Coyotes name, and the NHL gave him five years to restart the Coyotes as an expansion franchise. But the Arizona State Land Department’s sudden shift Friday clouded Meruelo’s future plans for the Coyotes. 

“The Arizona Coyotes are exploring all of our legal options given this shortsighted decision by the State,” the Coyotes said in their post.

In another statement provided to Front Office Sports, the Arizona State Land Department said the land would require a special use permit and any bidders would need to complete the application process to spell out what they intend to build on that land. 

“We understand the delay in an auction is a disappointment for our applicant and members of the public, but the change in timing is the prudent decision for the Trust,” the land department said. “ASLD remains open to working with our applicant to bring the land forward to auction in the future if a special use permit is received.”

The land was appraised for $68.5 million, and multiple bidders beyond Meruelo were expected to take part in the auction. 

This is a developing news story.

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