NHL | One more obstacle stands in the way of the return of the Arizona Coyotes

NHL | One more obstacle stands in the way of the return of the Arizona Coyotes
NHL | One more obstacle stands in the way of the return of the Arizona Coyotes

(Phoenix) The state of Arizona canceled an auction for land where the owner of the Coyotes hoped to build an arena on Friday.


Published yesterday at 7:26 p.m.

John Marshall

Associated Press

The State Lands Department (ASLD) has canceled an auction scheduled to take place next Thursday.

Arizona is rearranging the steps so that the applicant can apply for a special use permit.

“We understand that a delay in holding an auction is a disappointment for (the club) and the public, but changing the calendar is a prudent decision,” said the ASLD in a press release. We remain open (to the process) if a special use permit is received. »

The 110-acre property in North Phoenix had been targeted by Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo in hopes of finding a long-term home for the organization.

When the auction of the land valued at US$68.5 million was pushed back to this summer, Meruelo took the advice of the NHL and opted to sell the club to Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith , in April.

They moved the team to Salt Lake City, renaming it the Utah Hockey Club (for the first season).

Meruelo retained the Coyotes name, logo and brand.

He plans to relaunch the team through an expansion process – if a new arena is built within five years.

The cancellation of the auction now puts this in doubt.

“After a year of planning and complying with all legally required obligations, the Department of Lands unilaterally canceled the auction,” the Coyotes said in a statement. This unprecedented action by the state of Arizona seriously jeopardizes the future of NHL hockey in the desert. »

The Coyotes have been looking for a permanent home almost since the day the team left Winnipeg in 1996.

The team shared an arena in downtown Phoenix with the Suns before moving to Glendale in 2003.

When the city of Glendale walked away from a long-term lease, the Coyotes moved to Mullett Arena on the campus of Arizona State University in 2022.

The 5,000-seat arena, by far the smallest in the NHL, was supposed to be a temporary solution.

The NHL was reluctant to have the team play there for several years while Meruelo attempted to secure the North Phoenix site, leaving the sale to the Smiths as the only viable option.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league would need about 18 months to reactivate the franchise.

The circuit also said it will be keeping a close eye to ensure Meruelo and his group take the appropriate steps in the process.

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