The Arizona Coyotes have reached an agreement with Arizona State University to play its home games on the Sun Devils’ campus for the next three years, beginning in the 2022-2023 season.
The newly-constructed arena can seat 5,000 fans, and renovations will be required (which the Coyotes will pay approximately $20 million to complete) in order to make the arena suitable for NHL competition.
This new facility, which should be completed shortly before the start of next season, will be a temporary home for the franchise that will serve (ideally) as a bridge between its troubled exit from Gila River Arena and the opening of a new facility, which at this point is just a hope.
I suppose the one positive that comes out of this agreement is the fact that it provides the Arizona franchise with something certain when everything else seems to be uncertain. Still, relying on a university to sustain your NHL organization is not something that feels good or gives an overall sense of security.
The Coyotes playing at Arizona State looks bad for the NHL.
Even the language used in the Coyotes’ press lease by members of Arizona State and by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (seen below) leaves a bad taste in the mouth of hockey fans. Morgan R. Olsen, Executive VP, Treasurer, and CFO at ASU, said that they were “pleased to help” the lowly franchise, while sounding significantly more excited about opening the new arena than he did about hosting the Coyotes.
"“We are pleased to help the Coyotes by providing a temporary home while their new arena is built…We are beyond excited to open this wonderful new ASU arena, and this agreement just makes it even more special.”"
Also, I have to again ask after reading that quote, what arena? No agreement has been reached, and this idea that it’s all going to work out for the Yotes is hard for me to get on board with.
Gary Bettman then thanked the university for supporting the franchise, which would have sounded a lot more respectable had the relationship been described as a partnership. There is no other team in the NHL that would need support from a local school, as opposed to supporting local programs itself, as an NHL club should be capable of doing.
"“The National Hockey League thanks Arizona State University for its support of the Coyotes during this transition period and for what will be just its latest major commitment to growing our game in the Valley.”"
None of this feels good for the Coyotes or the NHL. The perception to me is that this is an extremely temporarily solution that was forged out of necessity. No one loves it, no one is excited about it, but we’re all going to have to stomach it.
Maybe I’m nitpicking or being too pessimistic, but as I read the press release, I couldn’t help but feel as though ASU is sustaining this hobbled team while it’s on life support, which just makes the situation sound so much more pathetic.