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Coyotes on the move?


JR Ewing

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Sources: NHL, Arizona Coyotes working on agreement to sell and relocate to Salt Lake City

Frank Seravalli

 

UPDATE [3:02 p.m. ET]: Sources tell Daily Faceoff that the NHL, Arizona Coyotes and Smith Entertainment Group have made significant and meaningful progress on an agreement that would see the Coyotes franchise sold and relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah. The machinations of the potential deal, which would have a renamed and rebranded franchise playing in Salt Lake in October, are mentioned below in the original story from Wednesday morning. The NHL sent an update memo to the Board of Governors on Wednesday amid media speculation. Sources said Coyotes players have been informed a “verbal” agreement is in place, but we have received pushback on that characterization of talks. To date, no deal has been completed. There is much work to be done, and it’s complicated and will involve many layers and lawyers. Stay tuned.

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The NHL is concurrently drafting two versions of a league schedule matrix for the 2024-25 season, one with the Arizona Coyotes and another with the Coyotes franchise playing in Salt Lake City in the event of relocation, multiple sources told Daily Faceoff.

That does not mean the NHL has firmed up plans to relocate the franchise yet, just that the league has a viable contingency plan for next season. But the news comes on the heels of billionaire prospective owner Ryan Smith publicly soliciting potential names for an NHL team in Utah earlier this week.

As the NHL has been working on dual paths, multiple sources indicate Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo is intimately involved in both. The first, of course, involves the Coyotes remaining in the Phoenix area by building a new arena via Arizona State Land Trust auction, which is scheduled for June 27.

But there is a real possibility that the Coyotes franchise is not based in Arizona come June 27.

The second path involves Meruelo selling control of the franchise in a multi-layered process that would include Smith Entertainment Group paying north of $1.2 billion, part of which is a relocation fee that would be distributed to league owners. Smith owns the NBA’s Utah Jazz and the yet-to-be renamed NHL team would temporarily play in the basketball-oriented Delta Center until a multipurpose arena could be built to adequately house both teams.

“We are interested. We are ready, and we’re a partner,” Smith told The Athletic this week. “The arena is done. We think we have a solution. And that’s my message to the NHL.”

An announcement on a sale and relocation could come as soon as April 18, the day after the Coyotes’ final regular season home game at the 4,600-seat Mullett Arena on the campus of Arizona State University. Sources continually cautioned that no deal is done, Meruelo remains steadfast in his belief that he can build a gleaming new palace for the Desert Dogs, and the NHL is working hard to avoid a long and protracted battle that could surface if Meruelo is not satisfied with the terms of a transaction. Sources briefed on the ongoing discussions indicated Meruelo could receive up to $1 billion for the Coyotes. The exact figures of the proposed transaction are speculated and all details and mechanics of a proposed deal remain fluid.

“Lots of moving pieces,” one source said. “Nothing is resolved at this point.”

The NHL still has time to play this out for next season, but the clock is ticking. The sale and relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg was not substantially complete until May 20, 2011, and not formally announced until May 31. If a Coyotes sale and relocation does not materialize by late May, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said last month that waiting until a June land auction date would likely ensure the Coyotes will play at least one more season at Mullett Arena.

Many questions remain, but one stands out: with all of this is happening behind the scenes, why did the Coyotes release arena renderings and a strongly worded commitment to Arizona last week?

Perhaps the answer is that Meruelo intends to win the June 27 land auction and develop that sports and entertainment district in the hopes of luring the NHL back to Arizona with a future expansion franchise. Sources said part of the agreement to sell now could include language that would allow Meruelo to ‘reactivate’ the Coyotes franchise in future years, including name and trademarks, if a new arena is built and terms and conditions of the agreement with the NHL are met.

That part shouldn’t be a surprise to hockey fans. After two decades of wandering in the desert, the NHL has ardently supported hockey in Phoenix at every turn, and commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t have any intention of leaving fans or the market high and dry.

 

https://www.dailyfaceoff.com/news/sources-nhl-drafting-2024-25-schedule-version-with-coyotes-relocated-to-salt-lake-city

 

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Halle-$ucking-luliah....about damn time.  All of that pathetic posturing about getting some land in Phoenix was smoke & mirrors for the team about to leave town.  Arizona's ownership is shady as hell.  Story  

 

This took way too long to happen.  It more or less keeps the Central Division intact without any major disruption and hopefully with a fanbase / community that can support it.  The only drawback, is that Utah has its share of water issues almost as much as Arizona does.  Personally, I wish they would go to Houston where you could have the Texas two-step road trip...but at least they're out of the pit that is Arizona.  

 

Hopefully this really happens...and this horrific embarrassment comes to an end.  

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Ok so if I understand correctly, The League would first buy the franchise at around $1 billion before the Ryan Smith group gets it for $1.2-ish billion. In 2023, the Coyotes franchise had a value estimated to $500M approximately. So by buying it at a much higher prize, the League attempts to put the board of governors on its side in giving owners some $$$ from the selling.

 

On the other hand, some guarantees are given to Meruelo to build his new arena without any timeline anymore while removing the gun on his head which would lead to another expansion in the Phoenix arena, and confirming that the League still doesn't -- and won't give up that market. That's somehow clever. What bugs me is why would the Ryan Smith group pay even more for an existing franchise, except the fact that it would get it right now. Still, nothing's done and there are many hurdles to jump over. 

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SLC is a great location for hockey. They have an ardently fan base already for the Grizzlies that will support NHL hockey in SLC. New name Salt Lake Salt! Locals will understand. 

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JFC, can the league bend over anymore for this one stupid franchise? My god. 
 

Quit trying to shove hockey down the throats of the citizens of Arizona. People don’t want it there. 

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From Field of Schemes:

 

Scottsdale mayor to Coyotes owner on arena plan: “Not feasible, or welcome”

 

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: The Arizona Coyotesproposed arena site is not in Scottsdale. It’s right next to Scottsdale, but it’s not in Scottsdale — much like the Oakland A’s proposed stadium site is on what’s called the Las Vegas Strip, but not actually within the city limits.

Still, just like when Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said she thought the A’s should stay in Oakland, when the mayor of Scottsdale says that he doesn’t want a Coyotes arena on his doorstep, that’s not exactly a great way to create momentum for the Coyotes’ arena campaign:

The prospect of a rookie developer attempting to buy Arizona State Trust Land with absolutely no infrastructure on the Phoenix side of the 101/Scottsdale Road intersection at the doorstep of Scottsdale is not feasible, or welcome…

I admire the hockey sport, Arizona Coyotes community involvement and phenomenal youth clubs at the Scottsdale Ice Den. But I along with City of Scottsdale staff will continue to monitor any actions that occur, and negative repercussions for Scottsdale. As it stands today, the fantasy hockey project must move west, away from Scottsdale.

Mayor David Ortega’s specific beef is about water and sewer lines, which he said he has no intention of providing from Scottsdale, and wants extended from Phoenix to the west instead. (He did say Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego “confirmed that all utilities must be extended from 56th Street,” which isn’t exactly clear about whether Gallego is offering to foot the roughly $100 million bill for that, or is just acknowledging that whoever gets the land would need to pay for it.) Ortega also complained that “the dream Coyote retail components sit too close to the retail lions of Scottsdale,” implying that he thinks it would just cannibalize economic activity from his city.

Again, none of this is a death knell for the Coyotes project, as Ortega’s approval isn’t needed. But as we just saw in Kansas City, development subsidy plans are most likely to fail when all the “growth coalition” ducks aren’t in a row, so starting off with one elected official loudly proclaiming that the arena should stay offa his lawn is definitely not what Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo would want.

For now, Meruelo needs to focus on winning a public auction for the land he wants — currently set for June 27 — and then getting both Phoenix and Maricopa County to sign off on the creation of what Arizona calls a “theme park district” within which a tax surcharge would be levied on sales or business income and then kicked back to pay off construction bonds. This isn’t a TIF, because it’d be a new tax on top of the development paying normal taxes to the city and county, but it’s also not quite like a tax just on tickets where the money mostly comes out of a team owner’s pockets because economics; I’m currently engaged in a lengthy email exchange with a couple of economists about how exactly to figure out what should count as the public cost, but since we don’t know the projected total amount of the tax surcharge it’s a bit premature anyway.

If Meruelo doesn’t get what he wants, team CEO Xavier Gutierrez has warned, “the NHL has made it very clear” that “we would have to look at other markets,” which is not what commissioner Gary Bettman has been saying out loud, but sure, rattle that move threat saber. It doesn’t sound like at least one local elected is impressed, but maybe you’ll have better luck finding Phoenix or Maricopa County officials who are more admiring of the hockey sport.

 

https://www.fieldofschemes.com/2024/04/09/21272/scottsdale-mayor-to-coyotes-owner-on-arena-plan-not-feasible-or-welcome/

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39 minutes ago, Math said:

So basically, it's toast for Phoenix...

Not if Bettman has anything to say about it.  He’d lay in front of the moving vans to keep that franchise in Phoenix. 

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22 minutes ago, IllaZilla said:

Not if Bettman has anything to say about it.  He’d lay in front of the moving vans to keep that franchise in Phoenix. 

That would be great!  We could finally get rid of him!

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11 hours ago, IllaZilla said:

JFC, can the league bend over anymore for this one stupid franchise? My god. 
 

Quit trying to shove hockey down the throats of the citizens of Arizona. People don’t want it there. 

 

I agree.  Its failed.  They tried for 20+ years to get people to show up for NHL hockey there and they didn't.  Even when the were good the fans only kind of showed up.  But they can't even fill up a 4,000-seat arena unless road fans fill it up for them.    

 

It is a colossal waste of time, energy and money trying to keep NHL hockey there.  As for Merulo, why would you continue to do business with that shady guy who never pays his bills?  If anything the league needs to revoke their franchise and then sell it to a more reputable and responsible owner / ownership group.  Afterall isn't that the ultimate leverage the league has with any franchise...the right to pull away their power if its not being run properly?  

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To make it work on a so-called non traditional market, you have to be top notch in terms of marketing the game while putting the best possible product. I still think the Phoenix area can be successful: the market is big, there are already a lot of pro-sports team, but terrible management and ownership has been killing this franchise softly and slowly. At a certain point, that level of mediocrity becomes part of the DNA and you can't revert it. Having the League running it with the head deeply dug in the sand didn't help either. Moving outside downtown PHX to freakin' Glendale was the first or numerous epic mistakes that have been made.

 

I've seen a interesting segment on sports marketing and business led by Ray Lalonde who is an expert in that field. He evaluates the chance of having SLC in the League next year at 80%.

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32 minutes ago, Math said:

To make it work on a so-called non traditional market, you have to be top notch in terms of marketing the game while putting the best possible product. I still think the Phoenix area can be successful: the market is big, there are already a lot of pro-sports team, but terrible management and ownership has been killing this franchise softly and slowly. At a certain point, that level of mediocrity becomes part of the DNA and you can't revert it. Having the League running it with the head deeply dug in the sand didn't help either. Moving outside downtown PHX to freakin' Glendale was the first or numerous epic mistakes that have been made.

 

I've seen a interesting segment on sports marketing and business led by Ray Lalonde who is an expert in that field. He evaluates the chance of having SLC in the League next year at 80%.

 

Or have the league change the rules to stack the team, like they did with Vegas...

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5 hours ago, IllaZilla said:

 

Or have the league change the rules to stack the team, like they did with Vegas...

 

I don't think they need more than 32 teams.  But league owners can't help themselves...they love the expansion $$$.  

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54 minutes ago, IllaZilla said:

Or a name that makes no sense, like the Utah Jazz. 


When was there any jazz in Utah?

 

They will be the first franchise to not have the name of the city in their name.

 

They will be

 

THE DONNER PARTY

Where LTIR goes to retire

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