In 1996, the franchise formerly known as the Winnipeg Jets was subjected to a drastic change of scenery when it relocated close to 2,000 miles south of its former home to set up shop in Phoenix and rebranded as the “Coyotes.”
That move was about as close to an unmitigated disaster as they come, as the Coyotes struggled to find their footing in their new home thanks in no small part to a tumultuous existence defined by the seven times ownership has traded hands in the 27 years the team has been in Arizona.
The last couple of years have been particularly rocky for a team that was almost evicted from its own arena in the middle of the season in 2021 and was eventually forced to relocate to the 5,000-seat venue it currently shares with the hockey team at Arizona State University.
The Coyotes positioned that move as a temporary solution to tide them over until they could find a new barn better suited to an NHL team.
Like many sports franchises, they were hoping the local government would come to the rescue, as its hopes seemingly hinged on the construction of the Tempe Entertainment District. a $2.1 billion project that was the subject of a referendum that was held on Tuesday.
If voters had approved the three measures on the ballot, the Coyotes would’ve earned the right to develop a 46-acre property Daily Faceoff described as a “hazardous wasteland” that would’ve boasted a 16,000-seat arena in addition to a shopping district and a luxury apartment complex.
Unfortunately, voters responded to all three proposals with a fairly resounding “No,” which led to the Coyotes and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman releasing statements expressing their disappointment.
“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."
Full statement here:…
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) May 17, 2023
Statement from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman regarding the results of the arena vote in Tempe, Arizona. pic.twitter.com/MVL3AUWP7R
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 17, 2023
As things currently stand, it seems like a virtual certainty that the Coyotes will be forced to relocate to another city at some point in the near future; Houston and Quebec City seem like the frontrunners, although Salt Lake City and Kansas City have also been floated as potential options.