Coyotes Are Road Kill in Arizona
After twenty years of disastrous ownership, failed referenda, and bankruptcy, NHL hockey is dying in the desert.
NHL Hockey is on life support (again) in Arizona after (another) bond issue was defeated on Tuesday for the purpose of building a new NHL arena in Tempe.
The saga of NHL hockey in Greater Phoenix has been as starcrossed as one can possibly imagine for a major league sports team.
The former Winnipeg Jets decamped for Phoenix to become the Coyotes after the 1996 season. They played in the not-suitable-for-hockey America West Arena for six seasons before moving into their own arena in suburban Glendale in 2003.
And that’s where the story goes sideways.
The franchise filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and attempted to sell the team to the owner of Blackberry in an attempt to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario. A bid for a new owner collapsed on itself, and the City of Glendale wound up having to guarantee the club’s expenses for a season. Glendale eventually kicked them out over unpaid tax bills after the 2022 season and this year.
This year, the club wound up sharing the tiny college arena on Arizona State’s campus with their hockey team.
Surrounding all of this were multiple attempts to relocate the team, another failed bid to build a new arena in Tempe, and failed negotiations with numerous other Phoenix-area communities.
Now, they have moved onto Mesa and are actually asking their fans on Instagram where they should build an arena.
One thing is starting to look apparent, the Coyotes are dead men walking in Arizona. It has basically been two decades of drama surrounding this team ever since they left Phoenix for Glendale. After twenty years of disastrous ownership, failed referenda, and bankruptcy, why would any city governments in the Valley of the Sun even try to see a deal through to the finish line.
While this team is committed to Arizona for next season, one would have to suspect that by the fall of 2024 the Coyotes will have decamped for Houston (the most likely choice), Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, or one of several other cities lining up to woo the club out of the Desert.1 A fanbase can only tolerate so much before the moving vans are the next logical step to end the misery on both sides…2
Yes, you want the Hartford Whalers or Quebec Nordiques to come back. Everybody does. It isn’t likely and you know it.
Ask Oakland A’s fans