The Arizona Coyotes NHL ice hockey franchise has been told to find a new home after the City of Glendale broke off talks over a new lease deal at Gila River Arena.
The city authority explained the decision by posting on Twitter that it wants to focus on “larger, more impactful events and uses” for the arena beyond the conclusion of the current lease, which runs until the end of the 2021-22 season.
Since 2016, the Coyotes and the city have had an annual lease arrangement, with the local authority having repeatedly opted against a long-term agreement.
In July, the team said it was “highly interested” in looking at a new arena in Tempe, Arizona when the city said it wanted to attract a professional sports franchise. It was also suggested at the time that the NHL team could move to Houston in Texas.
In a statement, Xavier A .Gutierrez, president and chief executive of the Arizona Coyotes, said: “We are disappointed by today’s unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement. We are hopeful that they will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale.”
He continued: “Most importantly, the Coyotes are 100% committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona, and nothing will shake our determination to do what is right for our organisation, residents of the entire Valley and, most important, our fans.”
The Coyotes’ move from Gila River Arena will mark the latest twist in a tumultuous history for a franchise that was originally founded as the Winnipeg Jets in the World Hockey Association (WHA), with the team then absorbed into the NHL when the WHA ceased operation.
In the 1990s, the team was renamed the Phoenix Coyotes after moving to the city, before becoming the Arizona Coyotes in 2014.
The NHL took over the Phoenix Coyotes franchise in 2009 when its then-owner Jerry Moyes declared bankruptcy. In 2013, a new owner was found, and the franchise was kept in Arizona.
The team is currently under the ownership of Alex Meruelo, who took over the franchise in 2019.