Thursday’s report that the Arizona Coyotes will see their lease at Gila River Arena terminated by the City of Glendale has cast a dark shadow over the organization. It’s yet another blow to a team that’s yet to have much solid ground under them since arriving in the desert in 1996. Today, Arizona Coyotes reporter Craig Morgan took a very deep dive into what the Coyotes’ options are moving forward if they are to stay in Arizona. There’s no real clear path forward for the team moving past next season, but options are abundant, varying from the outlandish to the near-probable. It’s widely believed that any situation that keeps them in Arizona involves a short-term stay in a temporary arena starting in 2022-23. That’s because of plans announced last month for a new, privately funded arena in Tempe, a more central location to their season ticket holder base. But with under 11 months until their year-to-year lease in Glendale runs out, Coyotes ownership needs to move quickly to find a temporary solution if they’re to stay in the Phoenix area.
One option, named by Morgan as the most realistic, is a temporary move to the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It would immediately become one of the smallest and oldest venues in the NHL, seating just 13,730 spectators. While it doesn’t seem like a great option in the least bit, there are a few reasons for optimism if Arizona is to create a temporary home here. You can make the argument that it’s been done before, and with great success – the New York Islanders’ recent second stint at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale certainly didn’t inhibit the team’s success on the ice. Throw in a much more preferable location to Glendale, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a temporary move here is a reliable short-term solution for the rebuilding franchise.
But there’s another downtown location that could be a much more creative solution – Chase Field, home of the MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Morgan emphasizes that little is known about how hockey would work in the roofed venue, but harkens back to the success of the Thunderdome for the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning. The reality remains that extensive renovations would need to be made in order to make the arena NHL-compatible, even more so than the Memorial Coliseum. It’s a long shot, but a fun idea.
Then there’s always the looming possibility of relocation, murmurings that have persisted for much of Arizona’s history in the desert. If a reliable short-term solution can’t be found, or their longer-term plans to build an arena in Tempe don’t pan out, there’s a more-than-zero chance that the Coyotes will have to find a new home entirely.
So, PHR readers, we turn to you to ask about the future of this Western Conference squad. Do the Coyotes find some stability in Arizona, or is it the end of an era in the Southwest?
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