Mullett Arena staged its first-ever NHL game on Friday as the Arizona Coyotes fell to a 3-2 defeat against the Winnipeg Jets, with a crowd of around 4,600 in attendance.
The Coyotes are playing at the new 5,000-seat facility from the 2022-23 to 2024-25 seasons – and potentially the 2025-26 campaign – as the team continues efforts to secure a permanent home.
Mullett Arena is the new home of Arizona State University’s ice hockey team, the Sun Devils, which debuted at the venue earlier this month. The arena has been named in recognition of Donald ‘Donze’ and Barbara Mullett’s commitment to ASU and Sun Devil Athletics.
The Coyotes previously played at the 17,000-capacity Gila River Arena but the team’s lease deal expired following the 2021-22 season. The Coyotes signed a deal to play at Mullett Arena while the search for a new permanent home continues.
The Coyotes hosted the Jets on Friday night before falling to a 3-2 defeat against the New York Rangers yesterday (Sunday). The team will return to Mullett Arena for the third game in less than a week against the Florida Panthers tomorrow.
The opening game saw Coyotes fans wear mullet wigs in a nod to the arena’s name. The team placed the wigs on every seat at the arena, which features a student section seating 200 to 400 fans. Supporters praised the atmosphere inside what is now the NHL’s smallest arena.
“The biggest thing that we were concerned about was that it’s so new for everybody, whether or not people could get in and out, and know where their seats were, how to get in, where to find the restrooms, the elevators, the club seats,” Xavier Gutierrez, Coyotes president and chief executive, said, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper.
“Just in general, how to manoeuvre in a brand-new facility. What you’re seeing out there is electric. It’s full to the brim, people are having a great time. They’re really engaged. Clearly the experience is positive for them.”
In June, Tempe City Council voted to proceed with negotiations on the development of a wide-ranging entertainment district that would be anchored by a new Coyotes arena.
The vote was welcomed by the Coyotes, which said the district represents an “incredible opportunity” for the team and the City of Tempe. The negotiation process is expected to take several months.
In September last year, the Coyotes revealed plans for a $1.7bn (£1.5bn/€1.7bn) development in Tempe, with the project to include an arena that can seat around 16,000 fans. The arena has been designed by Manica Architecture. The complex would also include a 1,500-seat theatre space, offices, an apartment building, a hotel and shops.