The Arizona Coyotes may not have a future in Arizona.
While they played last season at Arizona State University’s Mullett Arena (with a capacity of under 5,000), the long-term plan for the Coyotes was to build a new arena in Tempe as part of a $2.1 billion entertainment district.
Unfortunately, that proposal was rejected by local voters on Tuesday despite Tempe Mayor Corey Woods calling it “the best sports deal in Arizona history.”
“We are very disappointed Tempe voters did not approve Propositions 301, 302, and 303. As Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said, it was the best sports deal in Arizona history. The Coyotes wish to thank everyone who supported our efforts and voted yes."
Full statement here:…
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) May 17, 2023
The NHL’s commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on the matter, saying the league is “very disappointed by the results of the public referenda regarding the team’s arena project in Tempe.”
“We are going to review with the Coyotes what the options might be going forward,” Bettman added.
Statement from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman regarding the results of the arena vote in Tempe, Arizona. pic.twitter.com/MVL3AUWP7R
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 17, 2023
Hockey fans were generally disappointed to hear about the news. Many chimed in on Twitter, saying they sympathized with the Coyotes’ fanbase.
Feel sad for Coyotes fans.
— Alex 🏴☠️ (@GreatRajsel) May 17, 2023
Yotes vs Knights was my first hockey game so they’ll always have a place in my heart, sad to hear this news 😔 pic.twitter.com/oBAArEioWV
— moonchild☽⁷ (@Jeanete_again) May 17, 2023
Meanwhile, others have already begun suggesting new cities for the team to move to.
And a beautiful arena with a rabid fan base in Quebec City sits there and is ignored.
— DumboTron (@WittyWires) May 17, 2023
You gotta feel bad for the Coyotes fan base. But looks like it is time for relocation, where do they go?
– Salt Lake City
– Quebec City
So many more possibilities.
— Howitzer Hockey (@HowitzerPodcast) May 17, 2023
With the dismissal of the Tempe arena proposal, the team now faces a lack of choices for constructing a new NHL-sized venue in Arizona. As a result, there has been talk of the Coyotes potentially moving to another city, with Houston emerging as the most frequently mentioned prospective location.
From the Coyotes’ inception, relocation has been a looming threat.
Formerly the Winnipeg Jets, the Coyotes moved to Phoenix in 1996. At the time, the team shared a downtown arena in the city with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns before moving to Glendale’s Gila River Arena in 2003.
In 2009, former owner Jerry Moyes led the Coyotes into bankruptcy proceedings. Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie entered the picture, submitting an offer to acquire the team, aiming to relocate it to Hamilton, Ontario.
In 2013, a fresh ownership group arrived, bringing optimism. However, in 2015, new problems emerged as the city of Glendale withdrew from a substantial, long-term lease agreement worth millions.
Following this, the Coyotes resorted to leasing the arena on a yearly basis until Glendale declared its intention to terminate the contract after the 2021-22 season. To bridge the gap, the franchise secured a temporary arrangement by reaching an agreement to utilize Mullett Arena for three seasons.
With one year of that deal already passed, no one can say what the future holds for the team.
In a recent statement, Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez says, “What is next for the franchise will be evaluated by our owners and the National Hockey League over the coming weeks.”