Coyotes Arena History: Home Is Where the Howls Are

The Arizona Coyotes celebrated a momentous occasion on Wednesday afternoon, as their home arena officially changed its name to Gila River Arena. The building in Glendale, which was originally known as Glendale Arena and then Arena, has been home to the Coyotes since December 2003. With the new arena name being announced, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the places that the Coyotes have called home since moving to Phoenix.

America West Arena

Years in Service: 1996-2003

When the Coyotes arrived in the Valley of the Sun in 1996, they set up shop at America West Arena (now known as US Airways Center) in downtown Phoenix. Built in 1992, it was one of the newest sporting venues around at the time. During the 1993-94 season, the venue served as a neutral-site location for four NHL games. However, America West Arena was more suited for its primary tenant, the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, than it was for an NHL team. Due to the layout of the arena when it was converted from a basketball court to a hockey rink, there were a few sections where fans had their view of one of the goals obstructed. It took some time, but the Coyotes would eventually find a place to call their own.

Gila River Arena

Years in Service: 2003-Present

After spending seven full seasons and part of the 2003-04 season at America West Arena, the Coyotes moved west to Glendale. When the arena first opened, the Coyotes shared the venue with the now-defunct Arizona Sting of the National Lacrosse League. The Coyotes’ first game in Glendale took place on December 27, 2003. That night, Brian Savage scored the first Coyotes goal in their new arena in a 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators. The first home win in Glendale for the Coyotes came four days later on December 31 with a 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. That game would become an important part of NHL history, as it was the first of five consecutive shutouts for goaltender Brian Boucher, who went on to set the modern-day record for the longest shutout streak. The Coyotes would accomplish their greatest achievement so far within this arena on May 7, 2012 when they punched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals with a 2-1 win over the Predators.

O2 Arena

Years in Service: 2010

In addition to their arena in Glendale, the Coyotes technically had a second home in Czech Republic. The O2 Arena in Prague served as a home venue for both the Coyotes and the Boston Bruins when they played each other twice to start the 2010-11 NHL season. The designated visiting team won both times, with the Coyotes dropping their “home” game by a score of 3-0.

Future Venues?

Last season, the Coyotes’ ownership expressed interest in hosting an outdoor game. However, the NHL has not made any plans to bring a premiere outdoor event to Arizona and it remains to be seen whether that idea will be pursed in the near future. For now, Arizona hockey fans can look forward to another 41 games at Gila River Arena this season.