Could The Arizona Coyotes Be The First NHL Team To Sell For Over $1 Billion?

The highest price ever paid for an NHL team was $950 million for the Ottawa Senators last summer. The Coyotes could be the first to go over $1 billion if the latest Utah relocation rumors are true.
Columbus Blue Jackets v Arizona Coyotes
Columbus Blue Jackets v Arizona Coyotes / Zac BonDurant/GettyImages

Last summer the Ottawa Senators set an NHL record for highest sale price for an NHL franchise. The trustees for former owner Eugene Melnyk’s estate sold the Senators to Canadian businessman Michael Andlauer for $950 million.

It was the closest an NHL team had ever gotten to $1 billion, a price tag franchises in the other four major sports have reached.

It got us wondering when we would see the first NHL franchise sell for over $1 billion. If you would have told us it would be the Arizona Coyotes, we probably would not have believed you.

News of a potential sale and relocation of the Coyotes to Salt Lake City set the hockey world ablaze on Wednesday. Dave Pagnotta followed that up with a report the sale price would be around $1 billion.

The Arizona Coyotes may be sold at some point in the next few weeks

According to ESPN, that could involve the NHL buying the team from Meruelo at around $1 billion and selling it to the Salt Lake City group at $1.3 billion.

The Coyotes were recently valued in Forbes's annual NHL team evaluations list as last in the league at $500 million. That’s an increase of the $450 million they were valued at in 2022. 21 of the league’s 32 teams were valued at over $1 billion in 2023.

Whenever a team sells, its selling price is usually used as its value in next year’s rankings. For example, Ottawa is listed at its $950 million selling price as opposed to its $800 million evaluation from 2022. If said sale goes through the Coyotes are sure to rise.

Why are the Coyotes the lucky NHL franchise to reach the “billion-dollar sale” club? It probably has to do with the timing more than anything.

The Coyotes are rumored to be for sale at a time when more than a billion-dollar evaluations are commonplace.

In 2023 the Phoenix Suns of the NBA sold for $4 billion. The Minnesota Timberwolves were in the process of being sold for a deal worth $1.5 billion to minority owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore before the current owner stopped the sale.

The biggest “sports team sold” news of last year was when the NFL's Washington Commanders sold for a record $6.05 billion. There are two things of note with the Commanders' sale that might apply to the Coyotes.

First, New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris is heading the ownership group, giving an insight into just how deep some pockets of NHL team owners are. Second, the Commanders have been stuck in controversy and arena drama for years but it didn’t hurt the price.

Maybe the Coyotes' former financial and current arena woes won’t be held against them either.

Why didn’t the Senators sell for $1 billion when they were so close and every other team around them being sold hit that number?

The Canadian currency and Canadian economic factors most likely played a part. The Coyotes are avoiding these so that, plus being for sale at the right time with the right buyers, help them reach that mark.