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Design & Development

Delta Center set for renovation ahead of Coyotes’ arrival

Featured image credit: Lomrjyo/CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED/Edited for size

Delta Center, home of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, is set to undergo renovation work as it prepares to host the NHL’s Coyotes from next season.

Last week, it was announced that the Arizona Coyotes are set to move to Salt Lake City after the NHL’s Board of Governors approved a reported $1.2bn (£973m/€1.1bn) deal that will see the sale of the franchise to Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), which owns the Jazz.

The NHL approved the establishment of a franchise beginning with the 2024-25 season in Utah that will be owned and controlled by SEG, which is led by Ryan and Ashley Smith.

Ryan Smith has now provided an update on how Delta Center will be configured for NHL games. The arena has a capacity of 18,306 for Jazz games.

“It’s probably the tightest bowl in the NBA,” Smith said. “It’s an envy of the NBA for basketball. Right now, we’ve got 12,000 perfect seats (for hockey) that kind of come in where the sight lines are beautiful and another 6,000 where we can go have fun with who we bring in and how we do that, because it’s a little more compromised from a viewing standpoint.

“But you know, I was just looking at the plans to be able to get to (about 17,500) on hockey without ruining the slope and having to really, like, extract the bowl using new technology that’s available both from seating and the way that we can turn from basketball to hockey, which is super exciting.”

Smith added: “We want to actually use our arena and really spend time creating the best dual-sport arena that exists out there, because we want to keep people as close as we possibly can or as vertical as we possibly can to watch both games … How do we maintain that while making it really cool and innovative for hockey? And it’s super fun and challenging, but we’re going to do it.”

Last week’s announcement followed mounting speculation that the Coyotes would be on the move, with the team having seen multiple efforts to develop a new arena rebuffed since the relocation to Arizona in 1996 from Winnipeg, Canada.

In January, SEG, which also owns Delta Center, formally requested that the NHL initiate an expansion process with the purpose of launching a franchise in the state of Utah.

At the time, SEG said it would be able to immediately welcome an NHL team to Utah as Delta Center could serve as an interim home for the franchise. SEG said a new arena could be built to house the NHL team and also host events at a potential Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2034, but reports have suggested that a long-term renovation of Delta Center will now be favoured over the construction of a new facility from scratch.

The Coyotes have been 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 team played what turned out to be an emotional final game at the venue last Wednesday. 

The Coyotes previously played at the 17,000-capacity Gila River Arena in Glendale. Voters in the city of Tempe last year rejected the development of a $2.1bn arena and entertainment district for the franchise.

Earlier this month, the team detailed plans to purchase 110 acres of state-owned land in Phoenix with the intention of building a 17,000-seat arena in the city. Despite last week’s relocation announcement, Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo has said he is committed to buying this land.

Delta Center has hosted five NHL games since 2018 as part of the Los Angeles Kings’ ‘Frozen Fury’ pre-season exhibition series.