“We’re putting several options into play. We have over a dozen sites that we have had conversations with. We have half a dozen of those that we think are going to go to that next step,” Coyotes CEO Xavier Gutierrez said Wednesday. “We’re committed to still have a privately funded sports and entertainment district. We were disappointed with the vote in Tempe, but we turned the page very quickly. We reengaged with multiple sites that we had talked to beforehand, and we feel quite confident that one of these many sites that we put into play will come to fruition.”
The team is eyeing East Valley sites in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa and other places, including on tribal land. The team is looking at privately owned land and also public land that municipalities might sell to the Coyotes.
Gutierrez has told NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that the Coyotes will avoid choosing a site that requires “a public referendum” after losing the Tempe vote in May.
The Coyotes’ plan to build a new arena in Tempe as part of a $2.1 billion entertainment district was rejected by voters. The Coyotes were seeking to build a 16,000-seat arena and an entertainment district on city-owned land.
“I think referendums have proven to be very difficult, not just for us,” Gutierrez said. “You look at the backlash that certain other sports teams are having, it’s very clear that there is a narrative that this isn’t what really the public wants to approve via a vote. And so we’re looking at other options.”
Bettman told Sportsnet last week that “by midseason, we should have a pretty good handle on what their situation is. If we need to explore further options at that time, we’ll consult with management and figure out what to do.”
The team originally played in Phoenix but called Glendale home from 2003 through last season, when the city council did not renew its arena lease. The Coyotes turned their attention to Tempe, which was much closer to where most of the team’s fans lived.
While waiting for approval and construction of a permanent home in Tempe, the Coyotes relocated to Mullett Arena on the campus of Arizona State, sharing it with the Sun Devils’ men’s hockey program. The NHL team committed to play at Mullett Arena for three seasons with an option for a fourth.
Mullett Arena seats around 5,000 fans for hockey, by far the NHL’s smallest capacity. The team invested $19.7 million in add-ons to make the space NHL-ready, including NHL-quality locker rooms and training facilities. The Coyotes had a better home record (21-15-5) than road record (7-25-9) in 2022-23.
“Playing at Mullett has to be a temporary solution. There has to be a permanent solution on the horizon,” Bettman said.
Coyotes say they’ve identified 6 possible sites for new arena