11 cities the Arizona Coyotes could soon move to

May 17 2023, 11:54 pm

It’s been 12 years since the NHL has seen a franchise move cities, but it looks like that streak will come to an end with the Arizona Coyotes.

Tempe voters rejected a proposal to build an arena for the Coyotes on Tuesday, and it now seems inevitable the team will need to find a new home.

So where will they end up? Here’s a list of 11 places that could be a fit.

1. Quebec City

Metro population: 844,000 (seventh largest in Canada)
Arena situation: 18,000-seat Videotron Centre opened in 2015
Hockey culture: Hockey is a religion in Quebec

Quebec City is ready, willing, and able to support an NHL franchise. The largest city in Canada without an NHL team has been starved for a franchise ever since the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado in 1995.

2. Houston

Metro population: 7.34 million (fifth largest in USA)
Arena situation: 17,800-seat Toyota Center opened in 2003
Hockey culture: Multiple minor pro teams have called Houston home before

Dallas has been an NHL success story, so why not Houston? It’s the fifth-largest city in America by metro population, and easily the largest city the NHL has never tried before.

American billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets, has reportedly spoken to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in the past. Reports back in March suggested that Houston, along with Atlanta, are cities the NHL has interest in.

3. Atlanta

Metro population: 6.14 million (eighth largest in USA)
Arena situation: State Farm Arena (built in 1999) is where the Atlanta Thrashers used to play, but they may build a new arena in a different location
Hockey culture: Two failed NHL teams: Atlanta Thrashers (1999-2011) and Atlanta Flames (1972-1980)

Third time’s a charm?

It seems like the NHL is open to the idea of putting a team back in Atlanta, despite the city failing to support two franchises previously. But rather than move the team back into downtown Atlanta where there’s a ready-made arena, there’s talk of building a new stadium in Forsyth County, 28 miles north of where the Atlanta Thrashers used to call home.

4. Salt Lake City

Metro population: 1.3 million (47th largest in USA)
Arena situation: Vivint Arena (built in 1991) isn’t a suitable NHL rink, but a new stadium could be built for the 2030 Winter Olympics
Hockey culture: Long history of supporting minor league teams, and NHL preseason games

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith reportedly met with Bettman in March¬†and is said to be interested in bringing an NHL team to Salt Lake City. Vivint Arena has hosted multiple NHL preseason games in recent years, but it isn’t a great spot for hockey, as seats need to be folded up behind both nets to fit the ice rink.

Salt Lake is in the running to host the 2030 Winter Olympics though, which could see a new arena being built.

Salt Lake City’s population is low for a city wanting both NHL and NBA teams, but it’s also the fifth-fastest growing city in the United States.

5. Sacramento

Metro population: 2.4 million (27th largest in USA)
Arena situation: 17,608-seat Golden 1 Center opened in 2016
Hockey culture: n/a

Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadiv√© has expressed interest in buying the Ottawa Senators, which has people wondering if he’d like to buy the Coyotes and move them to the California capital.

Sacramento is the fastest-growing city in the state of California and has a new arena, which its NBA team calls home.

6. San Francisco Bay Area

Metro population: 7.8 million (fourth largest in USA)
Arena situation: Chase Center in San Francisco isn’t suitable for hockey, Oracle Arena in Oakland is past its prime
Hockey culture: Golden Seals called the Bay Area home in the NHL from 1967 to 1976, San Jose Sharks have been in existence since 1991

The Bay Area already has a team, in the San Jose Sharks. But is there room for another?

The San Jose Sharks would have to approve a second team in their region, and a new arena would likely need to be built. The Chase Center in San Francisco, built for the Golden State Warriors, wasn’t designed with hockey in mind.

Perhaps a move to Oakland makes sense? With the Raiders gone to Las Vegas, and the A’s possibly joining them, Oakland could soon be without a major pro team. The California Golden Seals used to call Oracle Arena home, though that stadium is long in the tooth.

7. San Diego

Metro population: 3.3 million (17th largest in USA)
Arena situation: None that are NHL-ready
Hockey culture: Their AHL team is well supported

San Diego is the largest city in the United States without an NHL or NBA team. The AHL’s San Diego Gulls are always among the league leaders in attendance, averaging nearly 7,000 per game for minor league hockey last season.

They would need to build a new arena though.

8. Portland

Metro population: 2.45 million (25th largest in USA)
Arena situation: 18,280-seat Moda Center opened in 1995
Hockey culture: They’ve supported a WHL franchise for a long time

Portland is a little on the small side to accommodate both an NHL and an NBA team, but given Seattle’s success, perhaps another team in the Pacific Northwest is worth a shot. The Coyotes even toured Portland a few years back.

9. Kansas City

Metro population: 2.3 million (30th largest in USA)
Arena situation: 17,544-seat T-Mobile Center opened in 2007
Hockey culture: They have an ECHL team and hosted preseason games

Kansas City has a ready-made arena for NHL hockey, and its mayor has expressed interest in bringing a team to his city. With no NBA team to compete with, Kansas City appears to have the population base to support an NHL team.

10. Cincinnati

Metro population: 2.26 million (28th largest in USA)
Arena situation: Need to build a new one
Hockey culture: Home to ECHL team

Is the state of Ohio ready for another NHL team? Cincinnati and Cleveland are two major cities without an NHL franchise.

While Cleveland has a suitable arena to play in, the NHL would have an NBA team to compete with. Cincinnati, then, may make more sense — but they need a new arena.

11. Austin

Metro population: 2.1 million (31st largest in USA)
Arena situation: None that are NHL-ready
Hockey culture: They support the Texas Stars AHL team

Austin, Texas, is the fastest-growing city in the United States for millionaires, and without an NHL, NBA, NFL, or MLB team.

Home to the AHL’s Texas Stars, Austin would need a new arena, but there are signs that the city could support NHL hockey.

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