The NHL was obviously optimistic it would be able to mine an untapped market when the Winnipeg Jets relocated to Arizona and rebranded as the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996, but the franchise quickly found itself dealing with the growing pains it’s still grappling with close to three decades later.
The team now known as the Arizona Coyotes has had a fairly tumultuous existence defined by severe financial difficulties that have seen a number of owners try (and largely fail) to make a mark.
However, things arguably hit a new low in 2021 after the ‘Yotes almost got kicked out of their own arena in the middle of the season before being forced to relocate to Mullett Arena, the tiny venue located on the campus of Arizona State University.
The team was hoping to get public funds to construct a new barn in Tempe, but rumors the Coyotes may be forced to relocate only got stronger after voters in the city soundly rejected the ballot measures that needed to be approved for that plan to go forward.
While it’s still unclear what the future holds for the franchise, it does appear current majority owner Alex Meruelo is doing what he can to ensure they won’t have to find a new home outside of The Grand Canyon State based on what may be one of the last realistic options on the table when it comes to avoiding that fate.
According to Arizona Sports, Meruelo recently signed a letter of intent in the hopes of securing a 41-acre lot in Mesa (around 15 minutes east of the building the Coyotes currently call home) where a new arena could potentially be built.
While it appears that’s the most attractive option for a plan that would tentatively see them relocate to a new venue by the start of the 2026-27 campaign, the outlet reports the team is also eyeing properties in Phoenix and Scottsdale in the hopes of having multiple paths to pursue if others ultimately fall through.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how everything pans out.