UTAH JAZZ

Will Coyotes Land Purchase Slow NHL Move To Utah?

Aug 9, 2023, 3:35 PM | Updated: 3:36 pm

ARIZONA – The Arizona Coyotes confirmed Wednesday that owner Alex Meruelo has a letter of intent out to purchase land in Mesa as a potential arena and entertainment district site.

“The Coyotes remain committed to building the first privately funded sports facility in Arizona history and ensuring the Valley as the Club’s permanent home. In addition to this property in Mesa, the club will continue to explore other potential sites in the East Valley,” a Coyotes statement read.

“We appreciate the tremendous support that we have received from many communities, elected officials, and community leaders who have expressed their desire to see the Coyotes remain in the Valley permanently. We would also like to thank NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly for their steadfast support of the club’s efforts to find a permanent arena solution and for their recognition that Arizona is a tremendous hockey market.”

According to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro, the Coyotes are beginning a process to develop the first privately funded sports and entertainment district in the state. Arizona aims to have an arena site locked down by the first quarter of 2024 so a new arena’s completion is in time for the start of the 2026-27 season.

Gambadoro reported that Meruelo put in a letter of intent to purchase 41 acres of land in Mesa, though the exact location is unknown. Meruelo is still looking into other possible sites in the East Valley, including Mesa, Phoenix and Scottsdale.

The Coyotes will remain at the Arizona State University-owned Mullett Arena this coming season, with a contract to potentially stay at the Sun Devils’ hockey arena through 2025-26 as a new arena is built.

“Our incredibly loyal and passionate fan base is extremely excited about our team and the incredible additions we’ve made this summer including Matt Dumba, Jason Zucker, Alex Kerfoot, Nick Bjugstad, Troy Stecher, Sean Durzi and the top prospect in the world, Logan Cooley,” the Coyotes’ statement said.

The team is putting a number of single-game tickets for the coming season on sale Friday.

Jazz Owner Ryan Smith Eyeing NHL Team

The Coyotes finding a new home in Arizona could be a setback for fans hoping to see an NHL franchise land in Utah in the coming years.

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith has met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman over the last year to discuss potentially bringing a franchise to the state.

The Coyotes’ tenuous history in Arizona made them an obvious candidate to move to Utah, though NHL expansion has also been rumored.

Last October, Smith announced that Arctos Sports Partners was buying a minority share in the Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), the entity that owns the Jazz, and hoped to bring a fifth professional sports team to the state of Utah.

Arctos already owns minority shares in three NBA teams including the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, and the Philadelphia 76ers, several MLB teams including the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, and the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC of the English Premiere League, various NHL teams, and Real Salt Lake.

Smith has previously indicated that Utah would not need a new arena built before an NHL team could begin operations in the state.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Will Coyotes Land Purchase Slow NHL Move To Utah?