The Arizona Coyotes got some terrible news this week as the three separate ballot initiatives to build a new arena and entertainment district for the franchise were shot down by voters. The speculation of relocation started almost immediately.
First there were the usually suspects. Houston was mentioned, as well as Quebec City. The NHL explicitly avoided Canadian markets in recent expansion for economic reasons so Quebec City seems out of the running before the running even began. Sacramento came up as seemingly long shot bid to join the NBA’s Kings (not the Los Angeles ones, the ones with a beam).
The Arizona Coyotes Tempe Arena proposal was shot down by voters.
The team did confirm they will spend another season at Mullet Arena even as relocation speculation continues.
Kansas City also came up as a possibility for the team to go. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes tweeted support for the idea, and we’ve said in the past his involvement could be a crucial turning point for bringing the NHL to his city. The Kansas City market is currently home to an ECHL franchise called the Kansas City Mavericks.
It took only a few hours for the NHL to shoot down any relocation talks, for next season at least. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the Coyotes will play at Mullet Arena next season as the league and the team continue looking at opportunities. The Coyotes, at least in their initial statement on the matter, said they intend on keeping the team in Arizona. Greg Wyshynski of ESPN pointed out just how quickly that all can change, using the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to become the Winnipeg Jets 2.0 as an example.
An interesting alternative to keep the Coyotes in Arizona has also presented itself. Elliotte Friedman speculated in his “32 Thoughts” that Gary Bettman might want to meet with the owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns about the possibility of the Coyotes sharing Footprint Center with the team.
The Coyotes previously shared the arena with the Suns, then called American West Arena, when they first moved to Arizona. Previous Suns owner Jerry Colangelo was instrumental in the team’s relocation to Arizona in the first place.
When the Coyotes were originally kicked out of Gila River Arena in Glendale, any potential move to Footprint Center was immediately shot down. Gary Bettman even mentioned the team’s previous not pleasant relationship with the arena’s owner, the city of Phoenix.
Since then the Suns have been sold to Matt ishiba, who may be more receptive to the idea. If the NHL is really as committed to the Phoenix market as they’ve always been, it’s a move at least pursuing. Footprint Center would need certain renovations to improve sightlines prior to any potential Coyotes move.
So the Coyotes are safe in Arizona for the immediate future. On Thursday afternoon, the team put out a poll on Twitter asking where they should put their new stadium. We hope their joking and have a better plan than just asking Twitter. They do have a better plan, right?