On Aug. 19, the city of Glendale announced that after the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, they would be ending their arena lease with the Arizona Coyotes. The shocking announcement came after the Coyotes announced they were seeking to build a new privately funded arena in Tempe in the East Valley earlier this month.
While many people outside of Arizona were shocked to hear the announcement, fans of the state have known this was coming for quite some time. Since moving to Glendale in 2003, the Coyotes and the city has a rocky relationship that hit its peak in 2015 when the city announced they were terminating their 15-year lease with the team. The news this past week was the boiling point in this whole saga.
Where Will the Coyotes Go?
The biggest question going forward is where will the team play after the 2021-22 season? The team has a couple of options to consider going forward if an arena deal in Tempe is approved. The first being FootPrint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, home to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. While this is one of the most logical options, as the Coyotes once played at FootPrint Center from 1996 to 2003, Suns owner Robert Sarver has already announced he does not want to share the arena with the Coyotes. The arena itself is also not capable of housing a hockey rink anyone since recent renovations over the past couple of years.
Other options the Coyotes have to choose from include sharing Arizona State University’s new hockey arena that’s currently under construction. The ties between the Coyotes and Arizona State go back to 2017, when a deal was in place to build and share an arena in Tempe. Arizona State ultimately backed out of the deal, ending hope that the team had finally found a stable permanent home in the Valley.
The Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix is another short-term option moving forward, along with sharing Tucson Convention Center with their AHL affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners.
What Obstacles Do the Coyotes Face?
While building a new arena in Tempe remains the team’s primary focus moving forward, the team has backup options if things fall through. While Arizona State’s new arena and the Tucson Convention Center are certainly great temporary options, the capacity for both arenas isn’t exactly ideal. Arizona State’s new arena will have a capacity of over 5,000, while the Tucson Convention Center only holds a little over 8,000. While that is certainly a reduction from the 19,000 Gila River Arena can hold, the Coyotes would gladly take a smaller arena if it meant getting a new arena built.
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The most logical option for most fans is a move to the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a.k.a the Madhouse on McDowell. The arena already seats over 14,000 and once housed hockey when the IHL’s Phoenix Roadrunners called it home from 1989 to 1997. Since then, the arena has housed roller derby and other events. While the team could definitely occupy the arena until the completion of a new arena in Tempe, it would need plenty of repairs to get it up to order by NHL standards, which could cost millions of dollars. For that reason, owner Alex Merurelo might choose to stay away from the Coliseum as an option.
Without a doubt, the Coyotes once again face uncertainty over their future in Arizona. The team has reinstated their commitment to remain in Arizona, wherever that may be.
“Most importantly, the Coyotes are one hundred percent committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona, and nothing will shake our determination to do what is right for our organization, residents of the entire Valley and, most [importantly], our fans,” Chief Executive Officer and President Xavier A. Gutierrez said in the team’s release.
The future of the Coyotes rests on the approval of a new arena in Tempe, closer to their fan base in the East Valley. Until then, Coyotes fans will be biting their nails over the next few weeks until more news comes out. If Tempe falls through, the Coyotes have options but only a few to pick from. One thing is for sure, things are certainly heating up in the desert, and the future of hockey in Arizona is in question. What do you think? Let us know below.
Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 16 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.