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Design & Development

Coyotes ‘committed’ to Phoenix arena plan amid Salt Lake City links

Featured image credit: Arizona Coyotes/Gensler

The Arizona Coyotes NHL team has reiterated its commitment to building a new arena in Phoenix amid reports that the league is considering relocating the franchise to Salt Lake City.

Yesterday (Wednesday), Daily Faceoff reported that the NHL, the Coyotes and Smith Entertainment Group have made “significant and meaningful” progress on a relocation of the team to Salt Lake City.

Smith Entertainment Group is the parent company of NBA team Utah Jazz and the Delta Center arena. In January, the company formally requested that the NHL initiate an expansion process with the purpose of launching a franchise in the state of Utah.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of the Coyotes has led to speculation that the team could relocate, and the Daily Faceoff, citing multiple sources, reported that the NHL is currently drafting two versions of a schedule for the 2024-25 season: one with the Coyotes playing in Arizona and another with the franchise playing in Salt Lake City.

The report comes after the Coyotes last week detailed plans to purchase 110 acres of state-owned land in the City of Phoenix with the intention of building a sports and entertainment district that would be anchored by a 17,000-seat arena.

The Coyotes had previously targeted a new $2.1bn (£1.7bn/€2bn) arena and entertainment district in Tempe, but voters in the city last year rejected the proposal. The team is currently playing at Mullett Arena, a 5,000-seat facility in Tempe that is home of Arizona State University’s ice hockey team, the Sun Devils.

The Coyotes previously played at the 17,000-capacity Gila River Arena in Glendale but the team’s lease deal expired following the 2021-22 season, and it could end up playing at the ASU facility until the end of the 2025-26 campaign.

Following the report of the potential relocation of the franchise to Salt Lake City, the Coyotes released a short video on X, formerly Twitter, with the caption, “Committed to keeping Coyotes Hockey in the desert & building an arena in Phoenix.” No official statement has been released by the team.

Ryan Smith, chairman of Smith Entertainment Group and governor of the Jazz, has previously said that Salt Lake City is “ready to welcome” the NHL. Earlier this week, he posted a survey on X to gather Jazz fans’ views on a potential name for an NHL team in Salt Lake City.

Smith has said that Delta Center, which has hosted NHL games in the past, would be able to house a franchise immediately. There are long-term plans for a “state-of-the-art” arena to be built that can host an NHL team.

The Seattle Kraken was the most recent addition to the NHL, debuting at Climate Pledge Arena in 2021. Prior to that, the Vegas Golden Knights launched in 2017, playing home games at T-Mobile Arena.