The Arizona Coyotes plan to play the 2023-24 season at Mullett Arena on the campus of Arizona State University despite a new arena plan hitting a roadblock.
The Coyotes’ plan to build a new arena in Tempe as part of a $2.1 billion entertainment district was rejected by voters on Tuesday, throwing the future of the franchise into uncertainty. Around the NHL, speculation immediately started about the Coyotes relocating to markets such as Houston, Salt Lake City, Kansas City or Quebec City as early as next season.
But Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez confirmed to ESPN Wednesday that the team will play the 2023-24 season at ASU.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly agrees. In an email exchange he was asked if there was a scenario in which the Coyotes played the 2023-24 season at Mullett Arena in order to give their next market some runway should they relocate.
“I don’t envision a scenario in which the Coyotes are not playing in Mullett Arena next season,” he said.
Another NHL source confirmed that the current thinking is the Coyotes will play another year at Mullett Arena unless something “unexpected” happens this offseason.
The Coyotes were seeking to build a 16,000-seat arena and an entertainment district on city-owned land at Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive, at the west end of Tempe Town Lake. The total project cost was estimated at $2.1 billion, with at least $1.9 billion privately funded, and was to include two hotels, a 3,500-person theater and up to 1,995 residential units.
Internally, the Coyotes had been optimistic about the Tempe arena vote entering Tuesday. But just over 56% of respondents voted “no” on the three ballot propositions needed to approve the project.
“We are very disappointed Tempe voters did not approve Propositions 301, 302, and 303,” Gutierrez said in a statement on Tuesday night that also thanked supporters.
“While we wanted a different outcome, we remain grateful to all those who volunteered their time and talent. What is next for the franchise will be evaluated by our owners and the National Hockey League over the coming weeks.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman expressed his disappointment with the outcome as well. While he had fought to keep the team in Arizona for more than a decade, he didn’t sound any rallying cry in his statement Tuesday.
“The NHL is terribly disappointed by the results of the public referenda regarding the Coyotes’ arena project in Tempe,” Bettman said in a statement. “We are going to review with the Coyotes what the options might be going forward.”
Gutierrez declined to comment on the Mullet Arena news. A Coyotes source told ESPN that “there is no Plan B” for keeping the team in the Arizona market long term.
NHL – Coyotes to play at ASU despite no vote