Arizona Coyotes’ ownership have issued a letter of intent to purchase land in Mesa that could home the team’s proposed sports arena and entertainment district.
The Coyotes said they are determined to stay in the East Valley area after their departure from Glendale last year and the disappointment of voters rejecting plans for a $2.1bn entertainment district in Tempe. Mesa is around 20 miles east of Phoenix and 10 miles east of Tempe.
In a statement, the Coyotes confirmed the progress made on the Mesa site but added that it will continue to explore other potential sites in the East Valley area. The Coyotes added that it remains committed to building the first privately funded sports facility in Arizona history and ensuring the region as the club’s permanent home, following reports the franchise could relocate to Houston or Salt Lake City.
A Coyotes statement read: “We can confirm that Coyotes owner, chairman and governor Alex Meruelo has executed a Letter of Intent to purchase a parcel of land located in Mesa, Arizona to be the potential site for a sports arena and entertainment district for the club.
“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.”
The Coyotes are currently playing at a temporary 5,000-capacity home on the Arizona State campus in Tempe, having left their long-time home in Glendale in 2022. Coyotes owner Meruelo sought to build a $2.1bn entertainment district in Tempe, but that plan was rejected by voters on a special election ballot in May. The Manica-designed Tempe district project, which had been approved by the local authority, would have included a 16,000-seat Coyotes hockey arena, practice facility, hotels, multi-family residential and retail space.
The Coyotes are due to be playing at the Mullet Arena at Arizona State from the 2022-23 to 2024-25 seasons – and potentially the 2025-26 campaign – as the team continues efforts to secure a permanent home.
The franchise relocated from the Canadian city of Winnipeg to Arizona in 1996, where it has since had a chequered history involving several ownership changes and bankruptcy in 2009, which led to the NHL assuming control for a period of time.
Efforts to secure a new home for the Coyotes has been one of the key items on the agenda for the NHL, and the rejection of the Tempe plan earlier this year was a blow to the league.
“The NHL is terribly disappointed by the results of the public referenda regarding the Coyotes’ arena project in Tempe,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at the time. “We are going to review with the Coyotes what the options might be going forward.”