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Coyotes Move To Utah Possible After Tempe Voters Nix New Arena

Could the city of Salt Lake, Utah be getting a new NHL team now that Tempe has shot down the arena bill for the Coyotes?

Voters in Tempe, Arizona have rejected the possibility of a new arena in their city and the shooting down of the Arizona Coyotes’ $2.1 billion arena project means that the future of the team in Arizona is now officially uncertain. The Coyotes released a statement following the no vote and noted, “We are very disappointed Tempe voters did not approve Propositions 301, 302, and 303. As Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said, it was the best sports deal in Arizona history. The Coyotes wish to thank everyone who supported our efforts and voted yes.”

The new arena was set to be free to taxpayers, but there was pushback on the idea of a billion-dollar renovation going into that area where vandalism and upgrades to a traditional part of the state were a concern. As per Frank Seravalli, “The usual complaints of increased traffic, proximity of a new in-arena sportsbook to Arizona State University’s campus, and impact on local residents and businesses have also been documented.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is “terribly disappointed” and the NHL now plans to “review with the Coyotes what the options might be going forward.” A relocation could be among the things discussed, as will possible renovations to a different arena, specifically where the Phoenix Suns currently play.

Darren Dreger writes, “Utah Jazz owner, Ryan Smith has publicly expressed interest in an NHL team. Could Salt Lake City become a relocation target? Relocation fees are significant.” Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News writes:

There are several reasons why Salt Lake City would be a great fit in a less-than-ideal situation, the first of which being that the Coyotes could move there right away and start play in a full-sized pro arena for 2023-24. Vivint Arena is the home of the NBA’s Utah Jazz and both the building and the basketball team are owned by local billionaire businessman Ryan Smith. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, Smith hinted that plans to bring a hockey team to Utah were “in motion” and he has reportedly met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in the past.

Gary Bettman Tempe Arena Arizona Coyotes
Gary Bettman Tempe Arena Arizona Coyotes

If not Utah, Dreger adds that Houston and Atlanta are also potential expansion areas down the road with much larger expansion dollars.

Would a Renovation in Arizona Work Best?

Dreger notes, “What is likely best for all, is the Coyotes and Suns partner on a new building. The cost of renovating a building that has just been renovated may be too expensive.” Elliotte Friedman also suggested the NHL will speak with people in AZ to see if there is something they can do to keep the team there. He noted in his latest 32 Thoughts Podcast:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Gary Bettman and the NHL, if they haven’t already, meet with him to gauge his interest in supporting the idea of turning the Suns’ current rink into a facility that can also support the Coyotes.”

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