Landlord and tenant disputes happen all the time, but this unusual spat could unseat an NHL team. The City of Glendale, Arizona, decided they can generate more revenue hosting concerts and events other than ice hockey at Gila River Arena, so the Coyotes will look for a new home after next season, and it might not be in Arizona.
Glendale didn’t renew its lease for the Coyotes beyond 2022, which means the upcoming season could be the last that ice hockey will be played in Gila River Arena.
“We are disappointed by the unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement,” said Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez. “We remain open to restarting good-faith negotiations with the City. 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.”
In 1996, the Phoenix Coyotes were born when the Winnipeg Jets relocated to Arizona. The Coyotes shared a home arena with the Phoenix Suns between 1996 and 2003. At the start of the 2003-04 season, the Coyotes secured their own home in Glendale, a popular suburb of Phoenix. In 2006, the Coyotes dropped Phoenix and added Arizona to their team name.
The Coyotes are one of the long shots on the NHL futures board at +20000 odds to win the 2022 Stanley Cup.
Where will Coyotes play?
Alex Meruelo, the Coyotes’ owner, is committed to keeping the team in Arizona, but he doesn’t have many suitable options.
There’s an old arena called the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the same spot as the Arizona State Fairgrounds. The Phoenix Suns started their franchise playing games at that venue, along with the defunct Phoenix Roadrunners from the WHA. The Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum seats 13,750 fans in a hockey configuration, but there are no luxury boxes, so it would only be a short-term fix.
If this were a few years ago, I’d suggest that the Coyotes would relocate to the Pacific Northwest. However, Seattle was awarded a new franchise and the Kraken start this upcoming season. Las Vegas already has a team, so that’s covered. So where will the Coyotes end up?
If the Coyotes want to remain in the Southwest, but not Arizona, there aren’t many options. How about El Paso, Texas? They’re one of the largest cities in America without a pro sports team. The state of New Mexico lacks a pro team as well, and Albuquerque has a cool venue known as “The Pit” where they played March Madness games over the years.
Houston, Austin, San Diego, and Salt Lake City are also potential options as a future landing spot for the Coyotes, but none of those cities are exactly hockey towns. San Francisco and the Bay Area sounds like a viable option, so maybe Oakland will make a pitch for the Coyotes after the Golden State Warriors moved to San Francisco.
Dare I say, maybe it’s time to go back to Canada? Obviously, there’s a franchise in Winnipeg, but there are other suitable options in Western Canada.