The Coyotes have pursued all options to avoid relocation and remain in the Phoenix metropolitan area since the team’s proposed arena and entertainment district in Tempe failed to pass a public referendum in May. It now seems the team is closer than ever to a resolution, as team president and CEO Xavier A. Guttierez told Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports last week that they expect to announce their chosen arena site by the end of the 2023 calendar year “or shortly thereafter.” Morgan reported that the location is expected to be a parcel of land within Phoenix city limits adjacent to the border with Scottsdale, one of the more affluent Phoenix suburbs, which TSN’s Darren Dreger added today is close to being finalized.
This timing is on track with what Guttierez outlined before the 2023-24 season began: a likely announcement around the turn of the calendar year. Morgan noted that while the site announcement is expected to come within the next few weeks, the final project bid likely won’t be complete until closer to the end of the regular season, which NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said was a more realistic timeline over the summer.
The season-long delay in confirming a new arena site shouldn’t affect the move-out timeline from their current home, the 4,600-seat Mullett Arena shared with Arizona State University, by much. Morgan said Sunday that the Phoenix-Scottsdale site “would allow the Coyotes to remain close to the same construction timeline as the Tempe site,” given the Tempe site would have required considerably more remediation before the team could break ground on the arena – anywhere from “at least” six to eight months. A standard two-year construction timeline would have the new site ready for the 2026-27 season, requiring a one-year extension on the Coyotes’ initial three-year lease agreement at Mullett.
Notably, the expected new arena site is not the parcel of land in Mesa that the Coyotes issued a letter of intent to purchase last August. On Tuesday’s edition of TSN’s Insider Trading, Dreger said relocation remains on the table if the Coyotes can’t close this deal within the next few weeks.
A step toward an arena resolution would go a long way toward supporting a Coyotes team that’s shown significant on-ice improvement this season. They’ve defeated the last five Stanley Cup champions in their previous five contests, are 6-3-1 in their last ten games, and are just two points behind the Jets for third place in the Central Division. It’s hard to imagine Stanley Cup Playoff hockey in such a minute arena as Mullett, but it’s quickly becoming a possibility as soon as this season.