NHL News

Coyotes buy land in Mesa for potential new arena

Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo has executed a letter of intent to purchase a parcel of land in northwest Mesa to potentially build a new sports arena and entertainment district for the franchise.

“The Coyotes remain committed to building the first privately funded sports facility in Arizona history and ensuring the Valley as the club’s permanent home,” the team said in a statement Wednesday. Terms were not disclosed.

In addition to the northwest Mesa site, the Coyotes are “looking at multiple sites so we can expect other letters of intent,” a source told ESPN.

The Coyotes called Glendale home from 2003 until 2022, when the city council decided not to renew their arena lease. The team is entering its second season at Mullett Arena, a 5,000-seat facility on the Arizona State campus in Tempe.

The move to ASU was a temporary fix while Meruelo sought to build a $2.1 billion entertainment district in Tempe, on a landfill owned by the city. But that plan was rejected by voters on a special election ballot in May, in a result that shocked the Coyotes and made the NHL “terribly disappointed,” according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Speculation grew that the team could relocate to cities such as Houston or Salt Lake City. But the Coyotes steadfastly continued to search for new arena sites in the East Valley. In June, Coyotes CEO Xavier Gutierrez said the team had “a half dozen” potential locations on their radar, all of which would not require a public vote for the construction of an arena.

“I think referendums have proven to be very difficult, not just for us,” Gutierrez said. “You look at the backlash that certain other sports teams are having, it’s very clear that there is a narrative that this isn’t what really the public wants to approve via a vote. And so we’re looking at other options.”

The site Meruelo intends to purchase is an empty parcel of land in northwest Mesa. That would keep the team near its desired markets of Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale.

“We appreciate the tremendous support that we have received from many communities, elected officials, and community leaders who have expressed their desire to see the Coyotes remain in the Valley permanently,” the team said Wednesday. “We would also like to thank NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly for their steadfast support of the club’s efforts to find a permanent arena solution, and for their recognition that Arizona is a tremendous hockey market.”

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